Bullying is a serious problem around the country and it has gone beyond the playgrounds and school hallways. In this digital age, bullying can take place through a text message, email or social network post. Whatever the form and means of bullying, it’s vital that we all work together — parents, educators and kids — to help prevent these potentially dangerous behaviors.
Stop Bullying: Speak Up
LG Mobile Phones has teamed up with bullying expert and best-selling author Rosalind Wiseman to give today’s teens the resources they need to lead the charge for change in their schools and communities. Wiseman and LG encourage support of the Cartoon Network’s “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” campaign.
About the “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” campaign
Cartoon Network’s ”Stop Bullying: Speak Up” bullying prevention campaign is for parents, educators and kids. It allows children and teens to share their experiences and provides concrete guidance about how to stop bullying through the Cartoon Network website.
“One thing I did for the campaign was answer kids’ common questions about bullying on the Cartoon Network website,” explains Wiseman. “For example, I suggest what to do when someone’s friend is the bully, or if someone wants to tell their parents, but are worried the parents will freak out and call the school. Hopefully, by answering these common questions and others like it, kids don’t feel like they’re so alone and get information they can use in their own lives.
“I also get to work with other well-known brands who also want to raise awareness about bullying prevention. Last month, I went to LG’s 2012 National Texting Championship to kick off LG’s new partnership with the Stop Bullying: Speak Up campaign. As part of the campaign, LG will contribute $1 for every pledge made, up to $50,000 for the on-going distribution of bullying prevention toolkits for middle schools and high schools across the U.S. that help educate parents, teachers and students about bullying prevention. People can pledge their support by texting Join LG to 27777 through October 31, 2012.”
Bullying tips for parents
When a parent finds out their child is being bullied, they need to listen and process the situation before heading into action. When your child is in crisis, it’s important that you let him know you are willing to help and it’s also essential not to act hastily.
Wiseman says, “Unfortunately, the most common parent reactions swing between the two extremes: Of ‘Just ignore it, walk away, don’t let them show you it bothers you’ or ‘I’m calling that school right now and getting to the bottom of this!’ Both responses aren’t helpful. Instead, I’d recommend saying, ‘I’m so sorry this happened to you, thank you for telling me, and together we’re going to work on this so you can feel better.’ By being calm and listening to your child, they will be more likely to tell you what’s really going on and have the confidence that you are a good person to go to in a moment of need.”
Getting help from the school
Even in today’s day and age when bullying often has serious — even deadly — consequences, some teachers and school officials don’t take bullying incidents serious enough.
“If the school or teacher isn’t taking the problem seriously, I’d have your child write down exactly what’s happening, when it started, where it happens and if there are any adults around,” says Wiseman. “I’d also recommend that your child describe how it’s impacting their ability to concentrate in school and what they need to feel better. After you’ve done that, ask to meet with the teacher and a counselor or one school administrator. During the meeting, your child can either use what they wrote as their script when they tell them what’s happening, or they can give them a copy to read. From there, you develop a plan that everyone can agree to work with. If you feel disrespected during the meeting, ask your child to wait outside your office. After they leave, don’t freak out. Calmly but with authority remind the school administrator or counselor that you want to work with them but you also need concrete demonstrations that they are prioritizing your child’s safety.”
What if your kid is the bully
It can be shocking, even devastating, to find out that it’s your child who is the bully. Keep in mind that your child’s behavior is not a reflection of your parenting nor is it an indicator that your kid is headed toward a life of violent behavior.
“In moments when our children do things that make us angry or embarrassed, it can be really easy to either deny it altogether or stress out, thinking that whatever they did is proof that we have raised a horrible child,” Wiseman says. “So, take a deep breath. When you get bad news like this, remember this is one moment in your child’s life. Your child isn’t destined to become some horrible person.”
After you have calmed down, Wiseman suggests talking calmly with your child to get his version of the events that took place, which may be very different from what was reported to you. “The important thing to focus on is while your child has the right to their opinion about what happened, so does the other child. If the other child is hurt, your child doesn’t have the right to say, ‘They’re just overly sensitive’ or ‘they just took it the wrong way,‘” says Wiseman.
“Then tell your child why what they did is against what your family stands for and why and you will be contacting the family to apologize. Either you’re going to do it or they are — but only if they can say, ‘I’m sorry’ and mean it.”
Only you can decide what punishment is appropriate for your child. However, you should be extremely clear and firm with your child that bullying will not be tolerated and that if it happens again, the punishment will be even more serious.
Read more about how to put an end to your kid’s bullying behavior >>
Rosalind Wiseman is the author of The New York Times bestseller Queen Bees and Wannabees — the book behind pop culture blockbuster Mean Girls. Wiseman is internationally recognized as an expert on children, teens, parenting, bullying, social justice and ethical leadership. You can learn more about the “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” campaign, get tips, watch videos and more at cartoonnetwork.com.