Think your child is being bullied? Five things to watch out for...
SAN ANTONIO —
We get a lot of questions from parents about bullying. It's one of the more common issues we hear about in our newsroom, but it's a hard issue to cover. Why? Because there are lots of moving parts to the issue; how did it start, who started it, is there retaliation, how is it being addressed, is it getting better, is it getting worse? Is it enough?
That last question is tough: Are we doing enough?
For parents whose children are consistently bullied, it will never feel like they've done enough. We want to help change that.
Some may remember the case of David Molak. The 16-year-old Alamo Heights teenager who took his own life in 2016; he was a victim of cyberbullying. His mother, Maurine, now travels across Texas to share her story and hopefully reach other parents who might be going through similar situations.
In that spirit, we wanted to share some notes from school leaders in the San Antonio area. We spoke to Mark Rustan, a principal at Rawlinson Middle School; and Stacey Griggs, the head counselor at Jefferson Middle School.
Here are some thoughts on what you should look for (and do) if you believe your child is being bullied.
- Keep the lines of communication open: Talk to your kids about their day and ask specific questions. A simple 'How was your day' just won't do. Ask about who they ate lunch with and how they spent their time between classes or after school.
- Teach your child about bullying: Most schools have anti-bullying programs (Rustan says the group at Rawlinson is doing some really great things), but parents should take some initiative here, too. Talk to your child about bullying and encourage them to talk to you when it happens.
- Notice a change in your child's behavior? Then talk about it: Rustan says it is important to watch for small changes in your child's behavior. Sure, your child may withdraw from you the older they get, but if you have a serious concern about how they're acting, then talk to someone. Talk to the child's teacher, a counselor at the school, the administrators. Putting your concerns on their radar may help you determine what's really going on. Get more information on the warning signs here...
- Monitor social media: Some parents may not like the idea of snooping through a child's phone and/or social media accounts, but if you really want to know what your child is up to and who they're interacting with, then snoop away. Griggs tells us that parents often give excuses for not going through a child's social media accounts (they don't want to pry). But if you want to know whether your child is being bullied, or even bullying someone else, you'll need to keep an eye on their internet activity.
- Report a bullying incident immediately: The moment your child comes to you with an outcry about a bullying situation, report it. Rustan says he encourages parents to keep detailed information to help school leaders determine what should happen next. Then, stay engaged and work with school leaders in your efforts to end the bullying.
Lastly, as part of our efforts to stop and prevent bullying, we've launched the Make It Stop campaign. We've also started a Facebook group dedicated to ending bullying in the San Antonio community. Find the page here and join the conversation.
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