Has your child ever been bullied? If so, your family is not alone. According to “Beat Bullying” by Karen Olson (Christian Parenting Today, Jan/Feb. 2002), researchers have said that
- bullying usually occurs in or around school,
- children who are alone are most often targeted by bullies,
- once a child is bullied, other children are more likely to stay away from that child.
- if a child tries to ignore the bully, the attacks will usually increase in both intensity and frequency.
What is bullying? It can be physical (against a child or destroying a child’s things), verbal (teasing, name calling), social (spreading rumors, excluding a child from a group), or electronic (social media, texting). What can parents do? First: pray! Pray for yourself, for your anger about the situation, for help and comfort from God. Pray for wisdom and words to help your child. Pray with your child about the situation and for the bully.
What else can you do? Get the facts. Ask specific questions, check with classmates (carpooling is a great time to gather information) and teachers. Prepare your child for bullies—not to retaliate but to practice how to respond to an attack. When and where is your child most vulnerable to a bully’s attacks? Role-play possible responses and escape routes. Work through bullying scenarios ahead of time: how to stay in a group, how to physically and verbally remain assertive, how to stand up for a friend who is being bullied, how to avoid a bullying situation.
Unfortunately, in this sin and pain filled world, our children are likely to encounter a bully at some point, but we can teach our children to be pro-active against bullies and to turn to God for his strength and protection in scary situations.