By Christine Murray, HRI Director

With the start of a new school year, many parents are thinking about how to help their children succeed academically in the coming year. In addition to academics, parents are concerned about their children’s social and mental well-being. One major issue that causes parents great concern is bullying. With the increased attention to bullying in recent years, parents are well aware of the risks that can arise for children who experience bullying.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

Parents play an important role in creating schools in which bullying isn’t tolerated. And yet, many parents remain uncertain as to how they can talk about this sensitive issue with their children, as well as how to work with their children’s schools to create safer schools that are free from bullying.

This school year, consider the following suggestions for how parents can help promote safety and prevent bullying in schools:

  • At age-appropriate levels, parents can initiate conversations with their children to help them understand what bullying is, know how to recognize if bullying is occurring in their schools, and know whether and how to intervene if they witness bullying.
  • Parents can work with their PTAs to organize events to educate students and parents about the dynamics of bullying and to promote nonviolence and kindness within their schools.
  • Parents should take time to learn about the bullying prevention and response practices and policies in their children’s schools, such as through the Guilford County Schools’ Bullying Prevention resource.
  • Parents can take time to learn about newer forms of bullying with which they may be less familiar. For example, cyberbullying is a growing risk as children get older, and many parents find they are less technologically-savvy than their children. By educating themselves about this dangerous form of bullying, parents can become better equipped to discuss it with their children and respond if they are at risk.
  • Parents can proactively teach their children to promote nonviolence and kindness in their children. Rather than waiting to address bullying after it occurs, proactive parents actively help their children to learn ways to show kindness to their peers and to the teachers at their schools. These actions may feel small, but they go a long way toward creating safe, nonviolence school cultures in which all students can thrive.

Through the Healthy Relationships Initiative, we offer a workshop for parents on bullying to local schools in Guilford County. If you are interested in learning about bringing this workshop to your school, please Contact Us for more information.

 

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