Teaching Your Teen About Bullying

Teaching Your Teen About Bullying

How to tell if your child is a bully or a victim at school (and what you can do about it).

By: Debbie Dragon

Being a teen means your child faces daily situations that challenge her character, self-esteem and mental wellbeing. Almost 50 per cent of Canadians had reported being bullied as a child, according to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

To truly combat the bullying epidemic, parents must determine what side of bullying their child is on: the bully or the bullied. No parent wants their child to be either, but it is important to recognize the warning signs of each group.

Is Your Child Being Bullied?
If your child is being bullied, they will probably not be forthcoming and rarely admit to the abuse. Whether it is out of embarrassment or fear of retaliation, you can look for signs that your teen may be a victim of abuse. Some common signs to watch for:

  • She doesn’t want to go to school
  • Instead of riding the bus, she begs you to drive her to school every day
  • She often claims she is sick
  • Her belongings are constantly damaged or missing
  • Unexplained injuries
  • She has suddenly become withdrawn, anxious or depressed and speaks negatively about herself
  • She becomes isolated and appears to be losing friends

What Can You Do?
Now that you have identified the warning signs of bullying, there are steps you can take to help your teen overcome the abuse. Try the following:


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  • Talk to your teen and assure her that she has the right to end the bullying
  • Encourage her not to react out of fear, instead she should respond with something that is short and simple without provoking the bully but leaves the aggressor uncomfortable with her behaviour
  • Encourage your teen to have a quick slogan she can say in response to the bullying, such as “That’s not funny” or “I’ve had enough” or even just a simple “Stop” before walking away
  • Teach her to ignore the bully
  • Remind her that she is stronger with a group of friends when confronted by a bully
  • Encourage her to speak with a school staff member about the mental or physical abuse she is experiencing at school

Is Your Teen the Bully?
No parent wants to think of her child as the bully, but the sooner you recognize the behaviour, the quicker you can respond to the issue.

A teen who is bullying uses it to solve social problems instead of having to face them. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services alerts parents to the following red flags that may indicate that their teen is a bully:

  • She is becoming increasingly aggressive and often gets into verbal or physical fights
  • She has unexpected money and new things
  • She doesn’t accept responsibility for actions and often blames others

What To Do if Your Child is the Bully
If you discover your child is bullying others at school, you should give her consequences for that behaviour at home. Bullies often feel they are victims, so it is important that your teen learn to accept responsibility for her actions.

Debbie quit a government job she hated to become a full time writer in 2002. She has co-founded Trifecta Online, LLC which later gave birth to Reliable Writers. She is a staff writer at ParentingSquad.com.

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Do you have any articles on bullying I the workplace? Bullying is starting to happen more and more amongst adults and I would love to see some articles on that as well.

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