Unfortunately, bullying seems to have evolved from physically repeated aggressive behavior to cyberbullying–hiding under anonymity to cause a child emotional trauma. Did you know that about 30% of young people experience cyberbullying and 12% traditional bullying? I came across another research by the National Library of Medicine that suggests that boys are more prone to be victims of bullying and bullies, especially in physical expression.
Traditional in-school bullying is still prevalent among many adolescents, and cyberbullying happens 24 hours a day, seven days a week, amplifying the abuse’s frequency. So, what do you do when your son is being bullied? Let me teach you about the law and effective school-based and parental actions.
1. Are Anti-bullying Laws Effective?
Currently, there’s no federal law that applies to bullying specifically. Still, in some instances, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment based on color, sex, ethnicity, race, or religion, including gender identity or sexual orientation.
Federally-funded schools, including universities and colleges, should resolve harassment if they meet the following criteria:
- Objectively offensive and unwelcome remarks such as physical violence, threats, derogatory language, and intimidation.
- There’s a hostile environment at school
- Based on students’ color, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, and disability.
In cases where bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment, the laws are covered under the federal civil rights laws enforced by the U.S Department of Education( E.D) and the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ).
Although there is a lack of federal laws against bullying, the anti-bullying laws are a prevention strategy, with most U.S Commonwealths, territories, and U.S states having a law or policies on bullying.
2. Are Schools Effective in Stopping Bullying?
Previous meta-analysis research showed that school-based anti-bullying programs effectively reduce school bullying perpetration by approximately 20% and school bullying victimization by at least 16%. These bullying programs focus on raising awareness and administering consequences.
However, not all bullying approaches are equally effective as these programs rely on punishment and zero tolerance, a strategy shown not to be effective in the U.S. According to Greater Good Science Center, two-research proven approaches that show promise to reduce school bullying include; social and emotional learning and a positive school climate.
3. What do You do If Your Son Bullied Son?
If your son is being bullied, there’s a high chance he won’t walk up to you and say, “I am being bullied; the kids at school are calling me names and teasing me.” Instead, it will manifest as, “I don’t want to go to school today.”
If you keep hearing these words more often in your house, consider that he is being bullied, which is the reason behind the sick days. However, if he is comfortable communicating his predicaments at school, listen in a non-judgmental way.
Don’t try to solve the problem; ask about his feelings. Additionally, enquire about the teaser without throwing negative statements, as you only get the story from one side. As a parent, you play a significant role in preventing and responding to bullying.
Is your son being naughty, or is he being bullied? Follow the following steps to understand your son for preventative measures if he is facing bullies.
4. Recognize the Warning Signs
Before your son went to school, he was a happy, bubbly, and lively boy, ever ready to help, make jokes and show off dancing skills. However, a year or less into his school, he is suddenly quiet, withdrawn, and non-verbal. An inexperienced friend may comment that it’s normal for teens to behave differently as they begin to discover themselves.
However, if you notice any emotional or behavioral changes, try and talk to your child. They may only sometimes be forthcoming with the truth, but it’s essential to become alert. Other warning signs of a bullied child include:
- Reluctant to go to school in the morning
- Frequent stomach aches and headaches
- Changes in friendship
- Troubled sleep
- Intense emotional reactions or crying spells
- Withdrawn or obsessed with electronic devices
- Lack of interest in communicating with family members
- Physical marks, torn clothes, or books
- Develops a victim mentality
Most times, your son won’t ask for help, so it’s important to know what to look for. If your son is at immediate risk of self-harm, seek help immediately; you shall discuss more when he is in a better mental space.
5. Learn What Bullying Is
Once you have acknowledged that your son might be a receptor of aggressive behavior, understand what bullying is to have a broader perspective. Your son’s aggressor is almost likely to be his age, facing troubling issues in their life. Therefore, you should approach this matter with the utmost maturity to not stigmatize the bully and victimize your son.
Many behaviors that look like bullying might be more serious, requiring a different approach and response strategy. In your quest to be more informed about bullying, you can also learn more about the following:
- The frequency of the bullying,
- Who is at risk of becoming a bully and being bullied,
- The long and short-term effects of bullying.
Additionally, if your child is experiencing cyberbullying, this requires a different approach than in-person bullying. Confronting cyberbullying is more complex as it may be hostile behavior from one or many unknown or anonymous users. Learn how to communicate with your son about boundaries and social media to prevent cyberbullying and how to deal with it once it occurs.
6. Establish a Safe Space
After realizing your son is being bullied, it’s essential to make his home environment a safe space for him to try and recover his self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-love. If you are living with people like his siblings, another parent, or relatives, communicate with them about the boy’s situation and educate them on how to approach the matter without making him feel like a victim.
This will also help other people in his life be aware of his triggers and vulnerability and how to approach him once he is down the guilty path. You can also communicate with the school administration to ensure that his well-being is a priority; if previously spoken about and there were no changes, feel free to home-school him until he is ready to interact with his peers.
7. Learn How to Respond
When you respond to an immediate accusation of bullying to your son, you are sending a message that what happened should not have happened. Consistent and quick responses to bullying can stop bullies over time, as it shows the victim has a great support system.
Avoid taking sides, even with your son, until you can fully grasp what happened by collecting all the information before passing judgment. Never assume your son will work it out without your help. If the situation is more physical or involves threats of hate-motivated violence, such as homophobia or racism, immediately contact the police for more assistance.
Can I Talk to my Son About Bullying?
Talking about bullying is difficult for everyone, especially teenagers who are still discovering things about themselves. Bully victims often believe they are less of a person due to the negative comments about them, resulting in low self-esteem.
There are various ways to raise the question while making your son feel comfortable and confident about their situation. As a parent, you can create trust with your son by initiating honest and heart-worthy discussions on bullying, and if you were a bully victim, share your childhood experience.
These dialogues will allow you to communicate values and learn about your child’s experience in a safe environment with empathy. As a result, your son will feel more confident to talk about a personal bullying experience or if they witness bullying.
What are the Effects and Consequences of Bullying and Cyberbullying on Kids?
Previously, bullying was viewed as a rite of passage between children aged 12 – 18, but now there’s evidence that bullying can have long-lasting effects on your son’s well-being and health. Bullying is also recognized as a risk factor for suicide, making it the second leading case of death among teens.
Some of the common symptoms that stem from bullying include;
- Heart palpitation,
- Stomach pain or upset,
- Difficulty staying asleep or falling asleep,
- Psychological effects include depression, social anxiety, self-harming behavior, drug dependence, involvement in crime or violence,
- Physical symptoms that lack medical explanation.
Since bullying is hostile behavior, it can negatively affect your son’s development, educational performance, social functioning, and physical and mental health. Pay attention to your son’s behavior and act immediately and reasonably to help them overcome this monster.
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