Bullying has been with us, it seems, forever, and schools are the opportune places where the “bullies” have operated. Parents and grandparents have long faced the effects of bullying, but It has become increasingly obvious to others, including lawmakers, that bullying is damaging and not acceptable in schools.
- Is your grandchild being bullied because of his or her religion, race, looks, speech, sexual orientation? What can grandparents do to respond to bullying? Or, is your grandchild doing some bullying? Bullying hurts both the bullied (depression and low self-esteem, lack of interest in schoolwork, school drop-out, suicide ideation and attempts) and the bullier (health problems, including increased incidence of future criminal behavior). A conversation with your adult child about this, if done sensitively, can convey your interest in helping. There are steps that parents, with grandparent support, to take to help each of them:
- Be aware of signs, such as not wanting to go to school, that your grandchild may be the victim of bullying; or, even more upsetting, that he or she may be bullying others;
- Know the legal standards that apply to the child’s school
- Insist that school personnel be trained in handling bullying at the school;
- Establish communication with school administration and counselors about concerns;
- Encourage the child who is being bullied to develop a group of friends who will be protection and confidence-building;
- Encourage adults in the child’s life to provide a warm, supportive environment, paying good attention to positive behaviors, and to model positive interactions with one’s own peers. (Anxiety, overprotectiveness, or acting like a bully oneself, will be counterproductive.)
- Provide experiences for child who bullies where he or she can understand others’ feelings, others’ own life experiences that shape their points of view (an excellent post in this issue: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- Involve child in family decision-making, including moral decisions.
- Help them be safe on the internet. Some terrific advice can be found online: www.huffingtonpost.com/george-garrick/internet-safety_b_1250064.html
What has worked for your family? Have you found ways to address this issue–in school or in the neighborhood? What resources have you found?