The school year has come to a close and you couldn’t be happier. At long last, your child can get a much needed mental and emotional break from the harsh treatment he or she has been forced to endure…Or so you thought.
Bullying has advanced tremendously since the days of the stereotypical, overgrown 10 year old who extorted lunch money in exchange for a free pass on an after-school beat down. It has even moved far beyond the time when muscle bound jocks would happily treat unsuspecting victims to their renditions of the “atomic wedgie” in the locker room after gym class.
At one point, these images sparked humor and became widely used by Hollywood filmmakers. These days, bullying can lead to death…Not so funny anymore.
Bullies no longer operate within the constraints of the schoolyard. They are now able to gain free access to your child 24 hours a day. The advancement of technology gives these cruel individuals the opportunity to terrorize others at will. Through the use of text messages, e-mails, and social networks, bullies are fully equipped and hitting harder than ever.
How can a mother help her child cope with such torture?
Here are 4 steps to help you and your child disarm a bully and take back your freedom:
Ask questions. Find out exactly what’s going on. If your child has sustained physical injury, take pictures and save copies of medical records, if any. If there are disturbing e-mails, texts, or videos, save them as evidence for school officials or the local police to view. You must make it a point to know and collect all the details surrounding the abuse your child is suffering.
Encourage you child to speak with you often regarding his or her thoughts and feelings. Speak openly with your child about how you feel. Open dialogue on a frequent basis will provide a much needed outlet for your child.
Bring as many adults into the situation as possible. Respectfully, inform the bully’s parents of his or her behavior; however, be prepared for a less than favorable response. Oftentimes, the parents of these individuals refuse to believe these types of reports and, ultimately, provide no help.
Tell the school’s principal, assistant principal, and guidance counselor.
Contact your local police department and file a report. Depending on the type of abuse that your child has sustained, you may be able to obtain a restraining order or an order of protection. In some cases, the bully can even be charged with harassment.
Equip your child with the tools necessary to fight back!
Help him or her develop a solid adult support system comprised of 3 trusted adults…Not including you. These individuals can offer support and advice if your child feels the need to speak to someone besides mom. This list can include a close family friend, a grandparent, a godparent, an aunt or uncle, a coach, a neighbor, or a favorite teacher. In the Charleston area, the crisis counselors at Trident United Way’s 211 Hotline would be an excellent resource to add to the trusted adult list.
Counseling services may also help your child cope with the loneliness and anxiety he or she may be experiencing. An avenue to consider is peer-to-peer counseling. Sometimes kids feel as though they can speak more freely to someone their own age. Charleston’s 211 hotline also has a teen line staffed with teens trained to assist their peers.
Helping your child develop self-control, confidence, and assertiveness is essential. Martial arts training can be an excellent way to obtain all three. Masters Studios of Self Defense successfully teaches its students how to positively handle threatening situations all while building a strong sense of self worth and esteem.
No mother wants to see her child become a victim. But, if this nightmare becomes your reality, then act quickly. Physical, emotional, and mental torment is too complex of a problem for any child to handle alone. Only with your help can your child put an end to the madness and begin to enjoy a life filled with peace and security.