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Every October, Bullying Prevention Month shines a spotlight on the issue of bullying, but it’s important to remember that bullying is a year-round problem that should be addressed throughout the year in schools and at home.

If you’re not addressing this issue as a parent at home, you run the risk of raising a victim or a bully. Have frank conversations with your children before bullying begins so they know why it’s wrong, the impact it can have on others, and how to handle it if a bully decides to pick on them. So this October, take some time to discuss bullying, but remember it’s a wide-spread problem every month of the year.

The Odds

Just in grades 6 to 12, approximately one-quarter of all kids will be the victims of bullying. And for those parents who think their kids will never be a bully, consider this: Around 30 percent of children have owned up to the fact that they have bullied other children.

Factors That Increase a Child’s Odds of Being a Bully

  • Having trouble following rules
  • Having problems at home
  • Being unpopular
  • Being a well-connected, advantaged child with a sense of entitlement
  • Seeing violence as a positive, or normal, thing
  • Being friends with bullies
  • Feeling the need to fit in

Factors That Make a Child More Likely to be Bullied

  • Children who are quiet
  • Being perceived as different
  • Children who are depressed or anxious
  • Children who aren’t as popular as their classmates
  • Smart kids who do well in school, which can trigger jealousy in bullies who aren’t doing well
  • Being considered annoying or antagonizing by classmates

What Kinds of Bullying Are There?

Bullying might be different from what you remember from your childhood. Sure, there are still playground bullies out there, but it has gotten more sophisticated and often sneakier. Let’s go over the various types you should discuss with your child so they have a clear idea of what bullying is.

  • Physical bullying: This is the classic bullying many people think of, involving physical force like hitting, kicking, and tripping.
  • Verbal bullying: This involves saying mean things to the person being bullied. It could be about their appearance, their family members, their socioeconomic status, disability, or ethnicity.
  • Relational bullying: This is when kids tell other kids to ignore another child. It prevents the victim from having relationships with others, further isolating them.
  • Damage to property: If your child brings a phone to school, the bully might smash it to upset them. Or the bully could steal their belongings instead of breaking them.
  • Cyberbullying: Threats and harassment can be sent through phones, email, social media, and other online sites. Unlike other forms of bullying, there is no break from this kind – it can happen at any point during the day, not just when your child is at school. 

How to Prevent Bullying

There’s no surefire way to stop a bully, but you can cut down on the chances of your child being the victim or turning into a bully by:

  • Talking: Discuss bullying with your child. Tell them what bullies do and how it makes other kids feel. Tell them they can always come to you if they have any problem.
  • Show what true friendship is: You can do this by having healthy relationships in your own life and by letting your child see that. Don’t belittle or gossip about your friends behind their backs, and your child will learn how to properly treat a friend.
  • Address inappropriate behavior: If you are aware or suspect bullying on your child’s part, address it. They need to know they have boundaries.
  • Instill a sense of confidence: Find activities your children enjoy and excel at so they have a healthy sense of self.
  • Teach them to rise above: Walking away or telling a bully to stop sometimes nips the problem in the bud.
  • Report it:If your child is being bullied, report it to the school. Keep persisting until your child is protected

Keep Communication Open

The number one thing you can do is always let your child know you are there for them no matter what. Tell them they shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed to tell you anything.

If you want, share stories of problems you had with bullies when you were younger. Or if you were the bully, tell them why you did it and why you regret it. With enough attention and motivation, parents have the power to stomp out bullying from our schools and our children’s lives.


About the Author

Jenny Silverstone is the mother of two, a writer, and an editor for the parenting blog Mom Loves Best. Jenny is passionate about using her platform to spread awareness and help stomp out bullying in our schools and communities.

Editor’s Note

This blog contains views, and positions of the author, and does not represent Safe and Sound Schools. Information provided in this blog is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Safe and Sound Schools accepts no liability for any omissions, errors, or representations. The copyright to this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

By: Leslie Lagerstrom & Todd A. Savage

My name is Leslie Lagerstrom and I am a mom, author, and advocate. If you met my son Sam, he would want you to know that he loves to travel, ski, and laugh. He would also share he is addicted to Scrabble, in case you might be a fellow competitor. As his mother, I would want you to know he has got the best sense of humor, loves volunteering to teach kids how to ski, and is one of the kindest people I know (my bias notwithstanding).  

Sam is also transgender. He knew his true gender identity early in life and began transitioning to be the boy he knew he really was at the age of 8. This is not something he hides, but also not a fact he feels the need to share because it does not define him. It is just part of who he is, a small part of the whole, but unfortunately being trans was all that his classmates could focus on while growing up, which brought about years of harassment and bullying.

When Sam was in fourth grade he told me matter-of-factly that he had become the outcast to both genders. Girls never could relate to his masculine ways, and boys did not want to be associated with ‘…that kid who used to be a girl,’ as they would say loudly while laughing for all to hear. I watched with despair as the bullying he experienced in the middle grades morphed into him being ostracized in high school, becoming invisible to his classmates who just could not get past the fact he was transgender. As strange and sad as it might sound, I think if Sam were to choose he would rather be bullied than being completely ignored. He led a lonely existence, some days not interacting with anyone but his teachers. 

I would have given anything for another parent to reach out to me. To offer a kind word to a mother who was hanging on by her fingernails. When I share our story one of the first questions I inevitably get from audiences is, “If there is a transgender child in our kid’s classroom, how can we help? How can we support the child and their family so that they feel like they belong?” Here is my common reply:

  1. Educate yourself and your family – don’t rely on the grapevine to help you understand what it means to be transgender. Ask your child’s teacher, guidance counselor, or school principal about where you can find helpful resources. Plan a family discussion on the subject so your children get the right information too. That said, don’t be surprised if they already know more than you on the subject – kids are amazing.
  2. Offer clues that you are supportive – sometimes a simple gesture can relieve an incredible amount of stress. Wearing a rainbow pin or tee shirt that has a supportive LGBTQ message on it will not only let kids like my child know you are an ally, but might also spark positive conversations with other people in the school community.
  3. Encourage your child to be inclusive, not just in school but in life – everyone wants to feel like they belong and transgender students are no exception. Many times they can be found eating alone in the cafeteria or unable to find a partner for classroom activities. Encourage your child to extend a hand, a kind gesture to kids in need. Your child will not only be a ray of sunshine for a lonely kid, but they will also be modeling respect for other kids to emulate.
  4. Stand up for the parents when you hear incorrect information about the child, their family, or what it means to be transgender – we encourage our kids not to be bystanders and then we do it ourselves (I am guilty of this too). It takes courage, but don’t be afraid to correct people who are spreading false information, making light of transgender people, or leading efforts that will negatively affect your school community.
  5. Don’t Be Nervous – sometimes our desire to show support is hampered by the worry that we may say something wrong. You can put that worry to rest. If something comes out the wrong way you will not hurt the child nor their parents as long as they can tell you are trying. In fact, you correcting yourself and moving on will be seen as a sign of respect.

Supporting School Culture Is Important, Too –  A Note from Dr. Todd Savage 

As a school psychologist that works with K-12 teachers, students and families across the nation, I have witnessed the success that can come when parents actively advocate for bolstering positive school climate initiatives at your child’s school and throughout the district. Learn about what is already underway in terms of building and maintaining school connectedness (i.e., relationships) within the school community, social-emotional learning programming, positive behavior supports, anti-bullying and bystander education, school safety and crisis preparedness, and promoting diversity and inclusion efforts. Families are an important part of the school climate equation and your contributions to the creation and maintenance of a positive school climate will go a long way for everyone, particularly transgender and gender diverse students and their families.

Finally, stand as an ally with your child’s school as the personnel there works to honor transgender and other gender diverse students. Being visible in this regard signals to other parents and families not only your support, it models strength when pressure may exist in the community not to be supportive. Sometimes all it takes for some people to muster the courage in the face of opposition is to know they are not alone in doing the work.


About the Authors:

Leslie Lagerstrom is the creator of the blog Transparenthood™, which chronicles her family’s experience raising a transgender child. She is a contributor to The Huffington Post and her essays can be found in two anthologies, Mamas Write and Nothing but the Truth So Help Me God. Committed to spreading awareness on the subject of transgender children, Leslie frequently shares her family’s story, speaking in front of audiences across the nation.

Todd A. Savage, Ph.D., NCSP, is a professor in the school psychology program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF); he is also a past president of the National Association of School Psychologists. Throughout his career, he has produced scholarly work and professional development for teachers, administrators, other school personnel, and family and community members around supporting LGBTQ+ youth in schools, particularly transgender and gender diverse youth.

Editor’s Note:
This blog contains views, and positions of the author, and does not represent Safe and Sound Schools. Information provided in this blog is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Safe and Sound Schools accepts no liability for any omissions, errors, or representations. The copyright to this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.