How Parents Can Help Their Child through Critical Issues
What should I do if my child is being bullied?
Bullying is repeated behavior that is intended to harm another child or adult. Bullying can take the form of teasing, gossiping, excluding, or being physically abusive to another person.
How to Support Your Child:
Listen to her. This is the first step in helping your child deal with bullying since it let her know that she can talk to you and you do listen. Ask her clarifying questions about what happened and how it made her feel. Refrain from any judgmental comments, such as “You should have…” or “Why did you…”
Develop a plan of action TOGETHER. Keep in mind that what your child would like to do about the situation may not be exactly what you think. Talk with her about the different ways to deal with a bully, including walking away with a group of friends, standing up to the bully, or telling a trusted adult. Trusted adults may include teachers, nurses, Girl Scout Leaders, coaches, principals, guidance counselors, etc. Ask her what she would like to do and come up with a plan that is satisfactory to both of you.
How to Protect Your Child:
Learn about your school's bullying policy. Find out more information about your district’s bullying policy by looking at your school’s website or student handbook. Under the Dignity for All Students Act, schools are required to publicize their bullying policies.
Keep a written record. Keep a written record of all bullying incidents, including cyber and in-person incidents. In your report, make sure to include: Time and date of the incident, Location of the incident, Name(s) of the perpetrators, Names of all witnesses, including children and adults and Description of what happened.
Save digital proof of incidents. If the incident happened online or digitally: Save all texts, photos, videos, postings, etc. that may serve as proof of the incident. If the incident happened on a social media site such as Facebook, you can take a screenshot of the page and save it as proof of the incident. Click here to find out how to take a screenshot on your device.
Schedule a meeting with school officials. Find out who is the designated person in your school to handle incidents and schedule a meeting with him her. Include other appropriate school personnel, including staff who witnessed the incident, the principal, vice principal, guidance counselor, and superintendent. Know that schools are required to take appropriate reactions, which may include separating the accused harasser and the target, providing counseling for the target and/or harasser, or taking disciplinary action against the harasser. Do NOT allow the school to make the bully and target talk the problem out with each other. This usually results in meaningless apologies and the bullying often gets worse afterwards.
Contact the police. If the bullying incident can be considered assault or harassment, contact the police to take legal action. This can protect your child from future dangers.
Definition of Assault - "A person is guilty of assault in the third degree when: With intent to cause physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person" (http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/article120.htm).
- In order to make an assault charge stick, targets must be consistent about their claims. Children commonly try to demonstrate strength by saying they’re not hurt, but this will only limit their ability to file charges.
Definition of Harassment - "A person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person: He or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same; or He or she follows a person in or about a public place or places; or He or she engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person and which serve no legitimate purpose" (http://ypdcrime.com/penal.law/article240.htm).
- Harassment must occur repeatedly, with documentation of each incident.
How can I empower girls?
In a world obsessed by size, shape, and attractiveness, girls receive messages that they must look and be a certain way in order to be valued. Little girls are complimented for looking pretty, while older girls are favored for looking “hot” or sexy. This pressure can lead to anorexia, bulimia, and increased relational aggression among girls. Here is a checklist of healthy alternative compliments for girls in your life. See how many you can use!
Advocacy and Critical Issues Coordinator
Read the results of our survey on girl friendships highlighted in Girlfriends Magazine. Learn about the ways girls in our community experience bullying in their relationship
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