What can be done about bullying?

Parents need to involve the school, document the incidents and educate their kids when bullying becomes a problem.

Bullying has become an epidemic across Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. The National Crime Prevention Council states that almost 160,000 kids skip school each day because they are afraid of being bullied. Many schools have a policy against this type of behavior, yet 74 percent of school-aged kids say victimization is a problem at their school. Parents need to take an active role as advocates for their children to help reduce the negative effects bullying can have, such as depression, violent behavior, low self-esteem and poor performance at school.

Involve the school

The first step a parent should take when they learn their child is being picked on at school is to talk to the teacher. The school can act as the mediator between the two families. This often works better than the parents getting together. However, some teachers may not be open to the idea of a bully problem in their classroom. Fathers and mothers can go to other members of the staff, like the principal, if the teacher does not appropriately address the problem.

Keep an account

Children are often embarrassed about being picked on, so parents need to document as much as they can when their kid comes to them. A child's guardians can keep an account of the bullying by doing the following:

  • Taking pictures of injuries.
  • Writing down the child's version of the incidents.
  • Keeping track of the school's responses.
  • Making notes of which staff members are contacted.
  • Writing out the plan of action.

Parents should keep this account as a way to keep everyone on the same page. The documentation can also help unify the parents and teachers to the same goal of protecting all of the young people involved in the unsavory acts.

Educate the child

Moms and dads can start educating their kids on how to handle peer-to-peer intimidation before it becomes a problem. It is important parents take the time to teach their kids nonviolent ways to address bullying. One of the first things parents can do is help their kids find safe people to go to should they get picked on while at school. Children may be able to turn to older siblings, trusted friends and teachers.

Role playing bully-related scenarios at home gives children the confidence needed to ignore mean behavior that takes place while they are at school. Moms and dads can show their kids how to be assertive and maintain eye contact as a way to discourage others from picking on them.

Bullying can negatively affect all Pennsylvania students. If a school does not properly address a parent's concerns, it may be helpful to work with an attorney who is familiar with this type of case.