| Peter Cook
It is the beginning of the new school year. For some, it is an exciting time of getting back into the swing of things, meeting up with friends, and discovering new ideas.
But, for some, going back to school means facing the bully again.
The National Centre for Educational Statistics reported in 2016 that one in every five children are being bullied in the US. We can surmise that the problem only got worse.
Bullying leads to low self-esteem, poor grades, and even suicidal thoughts. It is happening in hallways, in cafeterias, and classrooms all over. Schools report that bullying usually starts in all earnest in November and December after kids have settled into their cliques.
What can you as a parent or as a victim do?
The definition of a bully
Teasing in a friendly way between two students of the about the same strength is not bullying.
Remember the acronym R.I.P. to identify bullying behavior:
Bullying is Repeated, Intentional, and there is a Power Imbalance between the parties.
Is my child being bullied?
Anyone can be a victim. However, 'socially different’ students or those who are perceived as 'weaker' are more likely to get bullied.
Even though information and conversation about bullying are widespread in today’s day and age, children often do not speak out. They are afraid that it will only make things worse. The tools of the digital world can escalate the problem exponentially.
How to help a bullied child
It is not easy. Bullied children are looking to belong and to be safe. They must be supported so that they don't blame themselves for the bullying. It is also essential that there are consequences for the bully.
Counseling in schools
Schools should work with parents, administrators, and teachers and find ways to help bullied children feel less isolated. Students should be given tools of how they could stand up for themselves and of how they could be friends to others.
You, as a parent, can advocate against bullying. You can fill out a harassment form (it can be anonymous) and submit it to the school.
The school is forced by law to investigate and provide feedback. It is also essential to let your child know that he or she can also talk to you about anything.
Teaching a child safety strategy or reporting bullying are ways to counter bullying. But the problem is often not resolved that quickly. Bullying can be very subtle and cruel.
Our mission at Largest Heart is to make people aware that the problem exists and that it cannot be sugar-coated. It is an authentic problem for millions of students.
Some of them can't cope. They don't have people who support them. They struggle with anxiety and depression. They may even turn to substance abuse and as a very last resort, suicide. Let's not ignore the elephant in the room any longer.
We are advocates of real solutions that fit real-world situations. Let's get the conversation going.
Tell us your bullying story.
Contact us and tell us about your experience as an individual or as a family. We can provide support, but we also want to start telling actual stories to find genuine solutions.