Schoolyard Bullying Is Abuse. Parents Have the Power to Help.

By Jeremy Jones, Member

Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Santa Clara County

 Jeremy Jones gives many presentations on bullying to school-aged children.

Your child comes home from school ravenously hungry with destroyed clothing and books, telling you he doesn’t want to go back to school ever again.

 Bullying could well be the cause. A bully stole his lunch, ripped his shirt, stomped on his books. No wonder he wants nothing to do with school. This is not “kids will be kids.” This is abuse.

Bullying can cause feelings of helplessness and low self esteem, the sudden loss of friends, bad grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or self-destructive behavior such as harming himself or thinking of suicide.

It’s a serious problem.

But what can parents do about it? Plenty.

 You can keep an open line of communication, stay up-to-date with your children, help children combat bullying, prevent bullying altogether, know the warning signs and encourage them in outside activities.

 • Keeping the lines open: Spend 15 minutes a day talking with your child. Kids rely on adults for advice and help when the going gets tough. Children who know what bullying is are more likely to talk about it.

You could start a conversation and ask the child what bullying means to them, how they think bullied kids must feel, why they think kids get bullied, why they think other kids are bullies and to describe what a bully acts like.

 • Staying up-to-date: Volunteer at your child’s school or attend school events. Meet the teacher and counselor at a back-to-school night. Keep up with the school’s website, newsletters or flyers.

• Helping Children Combat Bullying: Talk with your children about staying safe during school hours. Encourage them to stay in groups of other kids when they feel afraid or uncomfortable because bullies like to pick on vulnerable children. Reassure them that expressing their feelings about being bullied or telling an adult is OK. Encourage them to report all bullying, even if they solved the problem.

 • Preventing Bullying: Tell your child to be keep calm because bullies love it when they get reactions for their hurtful remarks or actions. Teach them to say “Stop!” then walk away and report it to an adult. Emphasize that bullying is never OK.

• Knowing the Warning Signs: Not all children who are bullied ask for help. These signs can also point to bullying or other intertwined issues such as depression or substance abuse.

•Grades going down, not interested in schoolwork or in school in general.

•Losing friends suddenly and staying away from social situations.

•Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry.

•Feeling helpless or down on themselves.

•Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations or school events.

•Running  away from home, harming themselves or talking about suicide.

•Unexplained injuries.

•Faking illness or real stomach aches or headaches.

•Insomnia or frequent nightmares. 

• Encouraging Outside Activities: Children are bullied most often on school campuses. A kid who is bullied might stop participating in school activities.

 Keeping kids in positive and safe activities they like gives them the chance to have fun and meet others with the same interests. They can build confidence and friendships.

Two San Jose businesses have been working together to bring awareness and fight back against bullying.

American Kickboxing Academy provides a safe environment for kids to gain confidence and self-esteem through exercise classes. Kids will be able to work in a team atmosphere where there is a zero-tolerance policy against bullying.

California K9 Solutions offers emotional support training for family dogs to detect kids suffering from depression, often brought on by bullying. The dog will provide emotional support and companionship during the time of depression. 

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