Recognizing Bullying and Stopping it! - Tips for Parents

Bullying devalues, disempowers, and humiliates its victims. It can be hard to know if your teen is being bullied, as they may not want to tell you. The following signs may indicate a problem. 

  • A bullied teen often feels afraid, anxious, and alone
  • Teens who are bullied can suffer sleeplessness, depression, and loss of appetite
  • They often become isolated and withdrawn, even from activities they previously enjoyed
  • Their behaviour can sometimes suddenly become erratic and aggressive
  • They can also become suddenly withdrawn or preoccupied
  • They have difficulty focussing and suffer a severe loss of self-esteem 
  • They may begin to be absent from school or skip classes more often. 
  • They may have anxiety about going to school and complain about feeling ill, when they are feeling well 
  • Coming home with bruises or without certain belongings
  • They will sometimes suddenly be cut off from their peer group and even their friends 

Victims and bystanders may find it difficult to admit bullying to an adult, research shows. Bystanders are concerned about being cast as "rats" or "tattletales" and are afraid of attracting the attention of the bully. Victims can be ashamed, frightened and embarrassed and believe disclosure will not make any difference or may make the situation worse. 

Getting help

Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward resolving it. It's important for a victim to call on their friends for emotional support, and to talk to a trusted adult who can take action to improve the situation. 

Intervene early. Research shows that bullying stops in fewer than 10 seconds, 57% of the time, when someone intervenes. 

Adult supervision and increased presence can prevent bullying. Intervene early and often so that students under stand social responsibility and the importance of standing up for themselves and others.

Encourage students. Seek to provide assistance and support to children who are bullied. Look for opportunities to improve their self-esteem, develop confidence, change perceptions, counteract the effects of bullying and reduce the likelihood of further incidents. 

If you are being bullied: 

  • try not to react to the bully in the way that they want you to, as they may lose interest
  • Block bullies online or on your phone and keep any abusive messages as record
  • Tell a trusted adult what's happening, or contact a support group if you feel like you can't talk to your parents or a teacher

If you know someone who is being bullied:

  • Don't watch or join in with the bullying as this may encourage thebullies
  • Stand up for the person as long as you feel it's safe to do so
  • Advise the person being bullied to tell, or help them to tell an adult they trust
  • Tell an adult yourself if they are unable to

If you are the bully:

  • apologize to the people you have bullied and try to make amends
  • Ask a trusted adult to help you resolve any difficult feelings or situations you might be struggling with
  • Forgive yourself, learn from your behaviour, and move on 

If you are the parent of a bully: 

  • Bullies often resort to bullying because they feel insecure, fearful, or an able to cope. Sometimes they're being bullied themselves. Try to find out why they behaved this way
  • Encourage your teen to apologize and try to make amends
  • Help your teen to see that how they behaved is not who they are as a person