Bullying prevention awareness is important every day of every month. That’s the message counselors at one Pennsylvania cyber charter school is putting out.
By Rachel Parker
As Bullying Prevention Awareness Month comes to a close, I want to implore families to continue having conversations about how we can all play a role in preventing bullying beyond the month of October. Keeping the conversation alive is the best tool for parents in the fight against bullying.
Statistics indicate that one in every five students report being bullied; and of those who report, 41% think the bullying would happen again, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
At Reach Cyber Charter School, a tuition-free, online public charter for K-12 students across Pennsylvania, our team of more than 35 certified counselors and social workers are preparing students to be upstanders.
An upstander is someone who takes action against bullying behavior. Equipping students with resources will encourage them to take a positive stand against negative behavior if they ever experience or witness bullying.
At Reach Cyber, we also make families aware of the signs of bullying; and give them the steps they can take to address it.
I would like to share those strategies with you today.
Provide your child with knowledge about bullying and cyberbullying.
- Offer some examples of things that a bully might do or say. This will help your child better understand when to “flag” a problem.
- Let your child know that they can always come to you for help.
- Teach your child how to be respectful online. They shouldn’t post words or photos on social media that they wouldn’t share in person.
- Remind your child that it is always important to be kind to others.
Monitor & Recognize
If you suspect your child is being bullied, look for warning signs. If you detect a problem, talk to your student’s school counselor or principal for suggestions and guidance to resolve it.
- Social Media – Keep a close eye on your child’s social media pages. Take an occasional look at their profiles and feeds to make sure the conversation is positive.
- Behavior Changes – Pay close attention to how your child behaves after school. Though the effects of bullying are long-lasting, they should be most notable right after the incident. This includes behavior after they receive a text, Snapchat or email.
- Mood Changes or Trouble Sleeping – While mood and sleep changes can be a normal part of adolescence, it’s important to note if your child suddenly becomes sad, depressed, angry or agitated. Likewise, if your child has difficulty sleeping, it could be a sign they are being bullied.
- Declining Grades – A child’s changing attitude toward school can be one of the first signs of bullying. Check for a decline in your child’s grades, as this may be a red flag.
- Socialization – Pay close attention if an overall pattern starts to emerge with your child; patterns like withdrawal or avoidance of social situations.
Sometimes encountering a bully or cyberbully is inevitable, but there are safe ways to respond.
- Make sure children know to tell an adult.
- Document all the facts.
- Report the bully or cyberbully. Many social media platforms allow you to report negative posts. State laws require schools to have proper bullying prevention and response plans in place; so it is important that your child’s school be contacted if bullying creates a disruptive school environment.
Rachel Parker is Director of Counseling at Reach Cyber Charter School; a STEM-focused full-time, tuition-free, public cyber charter school for K-12 students in Pennsylvania.