3 Times to Step In When Your Child Is Bullied

As a parent, I know what it’s like to have a child come home from school after being bullied. It breaks your heart. The struggle for many parents is to know when to step in and intervene, and when to step back and give kids the space to try and solve it themselves. Of course, we should always help our kids by being good listeners and providing advice for how to respond to bullying. But when should we step in and intervene for our kids?

1. Intervene When The Bullying is Physical

By physical bullying, I mean attempting to take power over someone using your body or physical presence. Many people think of physical bullying as making actual contact (pushing, tripping, grabbing, etc.), but it can also include acts of physical intimidation such as getting into someone’s face and imposing your physical presence. It can even include threatening eye contact or staring someone down. If your child is being physically bullied, you need to intervene right away. (More on how to intervene below.)

2. Intervene When The Bullying is Harassment

Harassment means any type of bullying that is intense and repeated (with “repeated” being the key term here). It can include name calling, harsh teasing, spreading rumors, cyberbullying, and sharing online images or posts that could damage another person’s reputation. Some of the most hurtful forms of harassment happen when a student is purposefully excluded from a group or criticized for who they are as a person (their physical appearance, race, creed, gender, intelligence, or sexual orientation). Studies show the most common form of bullying is making fun of someone’s physical appearance. A close second is berating them for their real or perceived sexual orientation. If your child is being repeatedly harassed for any reason, you need to step in and help right away.

3. Intervene When The Bullying is Sexual

Sexual bullying includes any kind of harassment (as described above) that is sexual in nature, such as unwanted advances, making fun of someone’s sexual orientation, pressuring someone to perform physically, and of course harassing them over the internet through social media and sexting. A new trend among teens is the pressure to send nude photos of themselves over texting or social media apps. This pressure can come from a boyfriend or girlfriend, but it can also come from a peer group (even of the child’s same gender). Sexual bullying can quickly wreck a student’s reputation, interfere with their education, and lead to long term emotional damage. The moment you become aware of any sexual bullying or sexting, you need to intervene.

How To Step In and Help Your Child Overcome Bullying

As parents, there are times when we have to step in (whether our kids like it or not). Trust your gut to intervene in a way that truly helps them. At the same time, be careful not to overreact and accidentally increase your child’s stress and anxiety. Below is a list of 10 ways you can help out. Use as many as needed, depending on the severity of the situation.

10 Ways to Step In and Help If Your Child Is Bullied

  1. Report the bullying incident to your child’s teacher and school counselor
  2. Report repeated bullying to the school principal, and even the school board if necessary
  3. Setup an appointment to meet with your child and a school counselor
  4. Setup some sessions with a psychologist or a counselor outside of school
  5. Talk with your family physician if your child is being bullied
  6. Help your child get involved in extra-curricular activities to build confidence
  7. Help them join a student club or youth group to build friendships
  8. Use a technology (such as Meet Circle) to prevent cyberbullying and social media addiction
  9. Purchase a bullying prevention program (such as Victimproof) and go through it with them
  10. Continue talking with your child on a daily basis to monitor any increase or decrease in bullying