Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dealing with the parents of a bully

This series of posts explores the roots and provides recommended responses to childhood bullying. Here’s the introduction to the series:

 Dealing with Bullies and Bullying: Introduction

Dealing with the parents of a bully

While the parents of a bullying victim will more than likely learn of the bullying from their son or daughter, there comes a time when speaking with the parent of a bully is necessary. While this can be a daunting and emotionally charged situation, keeping a cool head and approaching the situation with rational understanding is essential.

Work with the school

Since most bullying occurs in and around schools, the school principal is the best person to facilitate conversations between parents. If this is a not a school-related situation, parents of a bullied child need to reach out directly to the parents of the bully.

Be rational. Maintain composure.

Parents should be very careful to not lash out in anger or approach the situation with accusations and ultimatums. As a parent who loves you child, you will probably be upset and defensive, but it is essential that you stay rational and understanding and work to try and find a peaceful way to resolve the issue. Remember, the children are watching you for an example, and how you respond sets the tone for what happens next.

Unresponsive or confrontational parents

If the parents of the bully are confrontational or in denial, you can assume that some mention of the conversation will be made to the bully. If nothing else, the bully now knows that their victim’s parents are involved. If your initial conversation with the bully’s parents goes well you should not hesitate to speak with them again if the bullying occurrences continue. If the conversation does not go well (the other parent may chalk it up to “kids being kids”, harmless, etc.) and the bullying continues, contact your local law enforcement agency and report the bullying as criminal activity.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bullying that won’t stop: What’s the best response?

This series of posts explores the roots and provides recommended responses to childhood bullying. Here’s the introduction to the series:

 Dealing with Bullies and Bullying: Introduction

Bullying that won’t stop: What’s the best response?

If the bully continues to escalate their behavior you should look into keeping the kids away from each other entirely. Sometimes it’s possible to change class schedules, lunch times, etc. Parents should keep in contact with the teacher or principal (or other parents) to ensure that their child is safe. If the problem continues, contact your county sheriff’s office or local police and ask them if you can file a criminal complaint.

Discipline: What works?

Sometimes the bully will not respond to stiffer disciplinary actions such as detention, suspension, work detail, etc. Oftentimes, the bullying intensifies and becomes violent. The revenge factor has to be considered. That’s why it’s very important to continually monitor the situation before it spirals out of control.

Violence and bullying

If a bully becomes violent (shoving, striking, kicking etc.) we strongly suggest involving the local authorities. Having records and a case number on file will help your child in the long run if the abuse continues. If a child lashes out in anger at the bully, the bully may retaliate with even greater force.

Proper reaction and self defense

If the child is being bullied and senses that they are in imminent danger, they should do their best to escape and run for help. The only time they should confront the aggressor with violence is if they are backed into a corner and can see no other possible means of escape. Remember, if the bully is humiliated (especially in front of their peers) they most likely will retaliate.

Should I encourage my child to fight back?

What about death match in the octagon? In all seriousness, we should never encourage children to fight. Effective martial arts-based self defense should only be used as a last resort. Kids should be taught that appropriate personal protection measures should be taken only if there are no other options and they know that they can’t talk, walk or run away from a violent encounter. Avoiding, even running from the bully is always the best course of action.

This is the concept of Winning Through Losing, stay tuned for more on the subject.