In Collaboration With Stamford American International School

Growing evidence on the effects of bullying shows that children and adolescents who are bullied are more likely to experience notable insecurity problems,  isolation, low self-esteem, depression, and other psychological issues. Besides causing these negative changes in behavior, being bullied can also impact academic performance, strain family relations, and lead to unstable relationships well into adulthood. Given bullying’s far-reaching consequences, no child should ever have to fall prey to bullies.

Unfortunately, bullying is a prevalent phenomenon worldwide, and highly developed cities like Hong Kong are no exception. A study published in the Hong Kong Journal of Social Work reported that 17.8% of the secondary school students experienced cyberbullying in 2018, while 30.9% experienced at least one type of bullying in the past three months. That said, preventing and stopping cases of bullying should be a top priority not only for the Education Bureau of Hong Kong but also for everyone in the home and community, especially parents.

If you want to protect your child or address bullying before it happens or escalates, you may want to take a more proactive approach. It is best to take charge, anticipate problems, and brainstorm solutions with other people involved instead of hoping all will be well. Don’t know where to start? To help you out, here are several strategies you may want to consider to deal with this problem.

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Educate Yourself And Learn How To Spot Bullying

One of the first things you should do to address bullying is to educate yourself about this issue. Keep in mind that you can only respond appropriately and effectively if you know what you are dealing with. For starters, learn to differentiate actual bullying from simple mischievous behavior, and identify its many forms.

After all, just because your child is not hurt physically, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a victim of verbal, psychological, or online bullying.  And since your kid will most likely keep bullying incidents a secret, you should also learn how to spot the signs of trouble. You may need to be wary of emotional outbursts, a decline in academic performance, reluctance to go to school, and similar concerning changes in behavior.

If you notice any of these warning signs, make sure to intervene right away.

Get Involved And Find A School That Proactively Fights Bullying

Although school administrators and staff play a vital role in preventing bullying and protecting students, they can’t do it alone. They need your help and involvement to create a safer school environment. Try visiting your child’s school, meeting their teachers, and keeping yourself informed about the school’s anti-bullying programs and policies. When you know what the school is teaching about bullying, you can re-emphasize these messages at home to create a more significant impact.

Pink Shirt Day at Stamford American Schpool
Pink Shirt Day (© Stamford American International School)

For instance, the Stamford American School in Singapore recently held a “Pink Shirt Day” to express solidarity against bullying and promote kindness toward one another. The event also stressed the importance of speaking and standing up when one witnesses injustice.

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If your child has a similar activity at school, you can discuss what the event means and the significance of being an upstander or intervening for someone being bullied. By doing this, the event can leave a more lasting impression on your child and foster a deeper understanding of the bullying issue.

Prepare Your Child And Build Their Self-Esteem

You can’t always shield your child from bullies. That is why you need to equip them with essential skills to help them defend themselves. Start the lessons young. Talk to them kindly and encourage the use of positive affirmations. That way, they can appreciate their unique qualities and become more confident. Remember that when your child knows their worth, mean words from bullies will hardly affect them.

Proud Young Boy with a Beaming Smile
Self-confidence makes a child more resistant to bullying (© photology2000 via Canva)

Apart from building your child’s self-esteem to make them more “bully-proof,” you can also help them learn phrases that they can use to counter bullying behavior. It could be a simple “leave me alone” or “that was not nice.” Make sure that the response is direct but not hostile to prevent aggravating the bully further.

More importantly, make sure that your child understands that bullying is never okay. Guide them to make wise decisions, including reporting or asking for help when they feel hurt or when they witness another kid being bullied.

Encourage Open Communication

If you want your child to reach out to you when they feel threatened or bullied, you need to establish an open line of communication. Your kid should know that they can come to you any time, and you will readily stop whatever you are doing to give them your undivided attention.

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Encouraging your kid to share their thoughts and feelings does not happen overnight. You need to invest time and consistent effort to make your child comfortable talking with you and listening to your advice. Having conversations during mealtimes or during morning commutes to school, asking questions about their day, keeping your tone friendly, and learning to listen without jumping to conclusions are some ways you can develop good communication.

Preventing and stopping bullying requires, first and foremost, the commitment and engagement of parents. You can’t merely leave your child’s well-being to chance, no matter how busy you are. The prudent thing to do is take proactive strategies to help build your child’s character and create environments where they can thrive. Whether that means volunteering at school more, praising them often, or spending more time with them is up to you.

Header image credits: SeventyFour via Canva

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