Last week, I wrote about cyberbullying and how it affects your family. I also gave tips on how to protect your child during National Bullying Prevention Month (October).
It’s important to know how to teach your kids to confront bullies in person. School has started and the bullies are in session with your kids.
Is Bullying the Same as Teasing?
ALL bullying goes beyond teasing. “It’s defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged kids that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. It includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Co-author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know ( Sterling: 2016), Jonathan Tobkes, M.D., says that “parents are the most effective deterrent to bullying.” I have found that the most important prognostic indicator for a child being targeted for his sexuality is having a safe haven retreat at home.”
Bullying should be taken quite seriously.
Did you know that:
- LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to say they’ve been physically assaulted, kicked or shoved at school, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
- 92% of LGBT youth report that they hear anti-LGBT messages in school, the internet, and by peers.
- LGBT youth miss as much as day of school per month, according to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network).
Many children feel that bullying is their fault. They caused it when in effect they are the victims. They will feel humiliated and shamed. Do NOT blame the child for being bullied. If anyone is making disparaging remarks or threats, advise your child to come to you right away. Says Dr. Tobkes, “it takes time to stop bullying but you can develop a “radar” for discovering whether this is going on and help.”
How Do You Get Your Child To Open Up?
- Listen and focus on him.
- Emphasize that bullying should not be tolerated.
- Tell him that everyone is entitled to be educated in an atmosphere that makes them feel safe.
- His home, school, community will want to protect him.
Ways To Keep Your Child Safe
- Alternate his route home, particularly when an adult is present.
- Do NOT Call the parents of the bully. It could make the bully more aggressive .
- Role play with your child. Pretend you are the bully and have your child develop a retort.
- Reverse roles.
- Model good behavior.
Jonathan Tobkes, M.D. and Wesley C. Davidson, co-authors of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need to Know (Sterling: 2016).
In the next blog, I will discuss how to make the school your ally.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.