One in four children report being bullied during the school year (National Center for Education Statistics, 2015). When I started my #ElBullyingNoEsUnJuego (Bullying Is Not a Game) campaign with my friend Yolanda Andrade I had no idea of the magnitude this campaign would reach, and that so many of you would come forward and share with me some of your stories. Here is one of mine: after my father passed away and I went back to school, the kids would tease me and say things like “you have no daddy,” which hurt me a lot. Even after I started to become famous, I got teased about the way I looked or the roles I played. Now, even as an adult, I still get bullied by some people on social media, but I have grown a thick skin and manage to easily brush off the mean comments. However, little ones have not yet developed the confidence necessary to fight, without violence, against bullying.
Here are some ideas you can implement to help your child cope with bullying.
- Many parents have no idea their children are getting bullied, as, according to PACER, 64% of children who are bullied do not report it. Sometimes they are too shy to come forward, or don't want to be a burden to the parents. Talk to your child and listen.
- If your child mentions they are being bullied, don't keep it to yourself, report it to the proper school authorities.
- Sometimes, the bullying can get out of hand, for example, when death threats are made, which happens to 1 out of 3 students (StumpOutBullying.org). Although these are often empty threats, they are not to be taken lightly and sometimes the police need to be notified.
- Talk to your child about body language so they can project confidence. For example, remind them to stand up tall and not to slouch, and to look people in the eye when they address them.
- Get your child involved in an activity that makes them feel more confident, like a team sport.
- Teach your child to only use physical force as a last resort. A lot of cases of bullying are verbal, but when bullying gets physical, you want your child to defend him or herself, especially if their life is at risk. A self-defense or martial arts class will help your child feel more confident, but you must remind them that this is only to be used when they are in a situation they can't get out of. Don't encourage violence.
It's important that we unite to fight against bullying!