How Should Parents Educate Children About Bullying?
Talk to your children directly about the kinds of bullying behaviors-verbal harassment, threats for money or other valuables, ethnic or racial slurs, following or stalking at school or anywhere else, being bullied online, being singled or shut out of groups, pushing or hitting. It is important for parents to recognize their child may not understand what bullying really means and when they should ask for help. As with any personal safety training for children, each child should know how to contact their parents or guardians at all times, how to identify and get to a safe place or zone in any situation and how to call and provide information to 911. (During a 911 call, you must give the dispatcher your full name, address or location where you are, why you need help, and you must leave the phone connected.)
Talk to children about the kinds of dangers that exist. Don't be shy and beat around the bush. Teach children, above all, to trust their internal alarm. If this internal alarm rings, get to a safe zone and find a trusted adult immediately. Teach your children that awareness and distance are their two most important self-defense skills. Practice the skill of identifying safe zones in any environment. Make a game with rewards. Teach children never to be afraid to talk to you about anything. Remember, children act much quicker than they react. Spotlight bully scenarios and potential solutions in advance.
- Have a family protection plan. Once a week, for a few weeks, bring the family together to discuss what is going on in the world and spotlight a specific scenarion of concern. Talk about it and suggest potential outcomes and a simple protection response. Keep the atmosphere relaxed and reinforce your love for the family is why we plan in advance. Use this time to discuss bullies.
- Teach your children to walk with purpose and communicate with confidence. Develop a habit for yourself and your family to raise "situation awareness" when passing through doorways and exits. Teach your children to scan left to right as they enter an area; this is how we process information fastest and with most retention.
- Teach your children a "safety stance" and how to present a "personal fence" (hands up in a "stop" position). Parents, teachers or other helpful adults can readily see there is a problem. Help your child develop an assertive stay away command to be used with any agressor such as "Leave Me Alone!"