When you discover your child is being bullied in high school, you probably feel helplessness, anger, sadness, and fear. All of these emotions are to be expected from parents who want their child to feel protected and loved. To become an adequate support system and advocate for your child, you need to create an action plan to help your child.
Where Do I Start?
Start by talking with your child about being bullied and focus on listening without judgment. Teenagers especially may not want to open up right away. During this time they probably feel insecure, embarrassed, scared, angry, vulnerable, or sad. Listen to your teen and learn as much as you can about the situation. It’s important to know how long the bullying has been happening, what kind of violence or bullying is happening, and who the actual bullies are. Reassure your child that:
- They are not alone
- It’s not their fault
- Bullying is never ok
- School safety is a right
- They deserve respect
Social Media and Cyberbullying
Today, any child or teenager can post hurtful comments about other kids on their social media. They can also take an embarrassing photo or video of their classmate and post it where other students can point out their flaws, and make insults. Cyberbullying is a growing concern, as more teens and children use social media and the internet for their socialization need. It’s important to talk with teens about these common threats, and protect them as best you can.
In the modern digital age concerns about online safety for kids continue to rise. From the moment teenagers log on to the internet, they are at risk of criticism from their peers and even strangers. Cyberbullying is a serious and preventable public health problem. If left ignored, it could lead to consequences that will last forever. Bullies, victims, and witnesses are at high risk of depression, anxiety, future aggressive behavior, and poor school performance. Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to commit or consider suicide. Keep in mind cyberbullying can be hard to notice.
You might be able to catch signs of depression though, as the mental illness does have an effect on the body. For example, if your teen is experiencing a lack of appetite, constant fatigue, changes in sleeping patterns, diminished concentration, and lack of interest in hobbies, than you might have a teen who is struggling with depression. Try to reach out in the form of spending quality time with them, seeking in-school support systems, or seeing a therapist with them.
Bullying that happens online is just as dangerous and real as in-person bullying at school. Cyberbullying can reach teenagers anywhere, at home, or other places they should feel safe. It’s vital to be realistic and know that it takes time to teach and learn ways of handling conflict and the emotions that come with it. Always praise your teen and recognize when they handle conflict or stressful situations well, and be open to them to allow effective communication
For more tips about keeping you or your family safe, check out our family section!