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10 Tips for Parents to Help Prevent Bullying

Aug 1, 2011

6:04 AM ET

Recent events have revealed just how rampant and cruel the bullying problem has become. The days of letting kids work things out by themselves or encouraging them to hash things out by the playground are long gone, as these strategies are proving to be much more dangerous than they once were. One thing is certain — parents play a huge role in the school bullying solution. Whether your kid is the aggressor or the victim, your words and support may be the most important tools in solving the problem. Here are 10 ways parents can prevent bullying:

  1. Talk to Your Kids: You may talk to your kids about homework, grades and school activities every day, but there are bigger issues happening in school that deserve to be discussed, as well. Bullying is a serious topic that parents and kids seem to skirt over far too often. An effective way to prevent bullying is to talk to your children about bullying. Depending on your relationship with your child and their willingness to share, you may have to wait until they approach you instead of prying information out of them. It takes a great deal of courage for your child to tell you that he or she is being bullied, so it’s important that you take it seriously and keep your emotions in check. Reiterate to your child that you want to help end the bullying and prevent it from happening again. Don’t hold back from asking your son or daughter who was involved, how it happened, and where each bullying incident has taken place. The more details you can obtain about the bullying episodes, the greater the chance of putting an end to the abuse when you contact school officials.
  2. Listen to Your Kids: Once you’ve established an open line of communication with your child, it’s so important that you listen intently to what he or she is saying. Listen to the details of your child’s bullying episodes so you can report these facts to school officials. Bullying is a sensitive subject for both the child and parent. You may be tempted to lash out at the bully’s parents or give the school a piece of your mind, but this irrational behavior could make matters worse. Before jumping to action, allow your child to share his or her experiences and simply listen. If your kid hasn’t opened up about being bullied or bullying others, give them a chance to tell you first, but always keep your ears open for anything that’s out of the norm or worrisome.
  3. Look for Signs: Children of all ages have a way of keeping things from their parents, especially when they are being bullied. Your son or daughter may hold back from telling you because they are embarrassed, don’t want to be a “tattletale” or are afraid that you might intervene and make it worse. If you think something could be wrong but your child’s lips are sealed, you should be on the lookout for signs of bullying. You may not necessarily see your child crying or sulking, but there are almost always signs that something is wrong. Victims of bullying often display signs of depression, loneliness and


10 comments to Guest Blog: Sue Scheff page1

  • Hi Sue,

    You do so much for parents and children. Your blogs on bullying are so practical.

    I suggest that parents have regular conversations with their kids in the car, at dinner, before bedtime etc. Here are 4 ways parents can encourage kids to share their thoughts about bullying or anything else:

    Probe gently
    Listen attentively
    Appreciate kid's thoughts
    No criticism

    I believe these 4 ways help kids feel safe in sharing their deeper thoughts.

    Thanks again, Sue. You are a true thought leader for parents.

    With warm wishes,

    Jean Tracy, MSS

  • 3V_Admin

    Hi Jean,

    Although Sue has graciously allowed us to re-publish this blog on our site, she may not get by to respond personally to your very nice comment. We don't want to speak for her since your remarks seemed worded for her personally, but 3V Learning very much appreciates your taking the time.

    Thanks also for the suggestions you provided, and we couldn't agree more with your advice. We are very glad that the bullying issue is getting more of the kind of focus and attention nowadays needed to have a real impact. We think the issue is so important, our development team has produced a thorough training course for schools and organizations that we feel is ideal for educators and parents alike.

    Thanks again, and please visit anytime!
    The 3V Learning Team

  • FranImp

    As a School Counselor and an anti-bullying specialist I felt that this blog was very helpful to parents and students. It is important for children to receive an anti-bullying education from both the school and home environments. When parents educate their children on this topic, it sends a powerful message.
    I did notice however, there is one line in the 4th tip that reads, " "Even children can prevent or stop bullying incidents in progress by verbally or "physically defending the victim" and displaying their moral engagement." Tip #5 then states "Do not encourage physical retaliation." (I agree with #5) I wanted to share this blog with my colleagues. Is there a way that this contradiction can changes? Thank you so much for all you do!! Thanks again for highlighting such an important topic!! Sincerely, Fran

    • 3V_Admin

      Fran, we are really so very happy for comments such as yours that not only indicate having earnestly read the material but takes the time to make a great observation. With this being a contributed piece, we certainly wouldn't attempt to speak for the author, Mrs. Scheff, but we will respectfully mention what we've picked up from the parts you referenced.

      As stressed in our 3V Bullying Prevention course "Youth Bullying: Understanding to Prevention", bystander empowerment we believe to be a crucial part of the equation in having a real and broad impact on the bullying issue. We make a sharp distinction, however, between standing in defense of the victim – physically if necessary – and going on the offensive, becoming the aggressor and challenging the bully physically. This is always ill-advised in our view.

      It seems to us there was an important distinction Mrs. Scheff was making; standing up in defense of a victim does not have to mean becoming the aggressor. This is our take, and we hope you won't mind our addressing your concern with those points of the blog.

      Who knows, perhaps Mrs. Scheff will stop by and join the conversation. You never know! Thanks so much, and we hope you will indeed share the blog with your colleagues.

      All the Best,
      The 3V Learning Team

  • ***Pardon my error, I meant…"is there a way that this contradiction can be changed (or rewritten)?" Thank you!! Fran

  • Thank you so much for your response. Yes, please feel free in addressing my concern with Mrs. Scheff. I really appreciate your attention to this. Please let Mrs. Scheff know that I think her blog is very important and covers a topic that should be discussed in every home. I respect her work and look forward to her response. Best regards, Fran

  • Bullying is nothing new, but home used to be safe. More and more this is less and less the case as cyberbullying hits the headlines on a weekly basis. At over 6' tall, both my kids are past this stage now. But I found the quickest route to break the cycle was to confront the bully's parents. I went in softly, not accusing their kids of anything, just a gentle comment along the lines of "I'm sure your sweet little daughter is only teasing, but it's making my son a bit uncomfortable, could you please have a mother/daughter chat with her and let her know that what she finds funny, others may find intimidating." This often works on two levels, flattering their parenting skills & making them your confidant.
    Bullying doesn't stop when you leave school. This weekend my son returned from a barbeque laughing about how some of the group had 'ripped' some guy & his Thai wife. Did I 'rip' him? You bet.
    Tell your kids that bullying in any form at any age is never acceptable. Let them know you'll be disappointed in them if they do rag the outsider. Let them know there's no shame in telling someone if they feel threatened or sidelined because of bullying. Never allow yourself to be bullied; the next person your bully tries it on with might not be so thick skinned so if you feel someone is trying to intimidate, let them their behaviour verges on bullying and is unacceptable.

  • Nancy Fox-Kilgore

    The comments are very practical and will prevent abuse.

    National Trainer on Bullying & Sibling Abuse

  • Hello, Sue,

    Sometimes understanding what lies behind the bullying behavior helps. We've worked with at-risk kids for over 50 years.

  • Jenoqueedge

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