By: Becky Post
We parents hear a lot of about bullying. While numerous resources are now available to address bullying behavior, many parents are still reluctant to report problems. Teachers often wonder why parents and guardians are so hesitant to come forward when their child has been bullied, according to Cricket Meehan, Ph.D., author of The Right to Be Safe: Putting an End to Bullying Behavior.
Dr. Meehan explains that parents hold back reporting bullying for several reasons, including
- They fear making a bullying situation worse.
- Their child asks them not to report the abuse.
- They are unsure of what to do.
- They feel powerless.
- They are embarrassed.
- They fear being overprotective and believe it’s the child’s responsibility to handle the bullying.
The fact is, parents should report bullying behavior, because children need the adults in their lives—at home and at school—to help stop abusive behavior.
Dr. Meehan explains that bullying behavior always involves an imbalance of power and control—and that power does not have to be in the form of physical strength. Power can come in many other forms, including social status, popularity, intellectual level, sports ability, talent, and social skills.
If your child has told you that he or she is being bullied, Dr. Meehan recommends you contact your child’s school. She emphasizes how important it is to avoid blaming your child and keep the conversation going by asking your son or daughter the following questions:
- Do you feel safe at school?
- Do you have an adult at school to whom you can talk if you are having a problem?
- What sorts of things can you do if you know that one of your friends is being bullied?
- What happens to people at school who tell on a student who is behaving badly?
What else can you do? Parents can arm themselves with education about how to deal with bullying behavior. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a wonderful online resource called Stop Bullying Now! that provides helpful, free information for parents. Also, be sure to check out our anti-bullying action steps to help your children rise above bullying.
In recognition of National Bullying Prevention month, The Right to Be Safe is available at a 20 percent discount during October at the Search Institute online store. This book discusses strategies and solutions to deal with bullying behavior in school districts.
Rebecca Post is the director of content development at Search Institute. She has worked as a book editor for most of her career. She and her husband are successfully surviving the empty nest, now that their only child is in college.