page contents

Helping Your Child With Bullying  

We went to see the movie Bully last month.  It was moving, difficult to watch at times, and demonstrated the impact bullying does have on children.  It might be something you would like to see with your children to stimulate some conversation about bullying and open up communication with them.  If you are interested, you can find out more about the movie at

On the other hand, the movie really didn’t offer much in the way of solutions.  Several people from the movie were working on a movement to expand awareness of bullying and a stop bullying project, but not much was offered as to how to deal with bullying when it does happen.  We are going to offer a few suggestions here. 

It is important to pay attention to signs your child might be having difficulty with bullying. Bullied children often don’t talk about it so it is important to stay connected to what it going on in your child’s world.  Avoidance of school is often a sign that something is negatively affecting a child at school.  Any signs of unhappiness or anxiety, such as nightmares or increased withdrawal, could also indicate problems.  A child who is having “accidents” and getting hurt often, or has come home with messed up or torn clothing might also be experiencing bullying. 

If you find your child is experiencing bullying, you should assure them you support them and will do all you can to end the bullying.  You can help them develop ways to respond to bullying more assertively, but you should not put the responsibility for stopping the bullying on them.  Help them identify teachers or other adults who will likely be supportive at school.  Help them to also identify friends who might be supportive, and ways they can be supportive if they see other children being bullied.  You should also coach them to not seek revenge.  Revenge just leads to an escalating cycle of violence that will almost assure someone gets seriously hurt.

Consider monitoring your children’s use of technology.  Much bullying takes place in the online social sphere.  Be your child’s “friend” on Facebook and follow what happens there.  Let them know you will be monitoring their text messages.  It may be a good idea to have one family computer, in a public place, where they do their computer time at home.  You may also want to consider limiting cell phone time and insisting phones be left in a public place when they go to bed at night.  Much of what is problematic in the virtual world seems to happen late at night. 

Become an advocate for your child.  Report bullying to the school and follow up with a letter, copied to the school superintendent, if there is no response.  Document text messages and online posts that are problematic.  If there are actual threats, you should report these to law enforcement officials. 

Just before working on this article, we were looking through some art projects from Debbi’s school about bullying.  Some students there were exposed to a program about “upstanders” or those who take an active stance against bullying and stand up against it.  It seemed to make a big impression on some of the children.  Be an upstander yourself and model that for your children.  As Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”