Q: Our son just started at a new school, and we’re afraid he is being bullied. What can we do?
A: Bullying is a rising problem – and “thanks” to technology, it isn’t limited to the school ground anymore. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
First, don’t wait for your son to talk about it. If you sense there’s a problem, say, “Is someone picking on you at school?” Some bullies will threaten to harm a child if he tells. Keeping the lines of communication open will assure your son that he’s not alone. Also, watch for nonverbal signs of bullying (wanting to stay home, consistently “losing” recess money, etc.)
Second, take it seriously. It may take every bit of courage your child has to admit he’s being harassed. Younger children may not have the vocabulary to fully explain what’s happening to them. So don’t dismiss the severity of their situation out-of-hand.
Third, encourage your child to stick close to friends whenever possible. Being with even one other buddy might deter a bully. Peer support doesn’t replace adult intervention, but can provide an emotional safety net and help restore lost hope.
Finally, take action – discreetly. Your child may fear that if you make a fuss, it will make things worse. But talk to teachers, school administrators, parents, and family friends, so your son has all the resources needed to be safe. You may even consider pulling him from school for a few days until the problem is handled. We’d also recommend visiting with a counsellor, so your child can work through any lingering feelings of distress or fear.
If your child would like to talk with a counsellor, please call our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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