From the moment a child is born, the parent begins to worry: illnesses, the safety of vaccinations, best ways to discipline, foods that children are most likely to choke on when eating. It seems worry and parenting go hand and hand, much like peanut butter and jelly; you can’t have one without the other.

New parents might believe when the children get older they won’t have to worry so much; and then we hear this frightening statistic from the American Justice Department: One out of every four children will be abused by another child. In case you think bullying is not occurring in your child’s school, think again: A 2000 report entitled The Ethics of American Youth: Violence and
Substance Abuse, showed that 39% of middle schoolers and 36% of high schoolers felt unsafe while at school.

Parents may not know their child has fallen prey to a bully. Victims of abuse often keep quiet about the incidences, even those who have strong relationships with their parents. Children may feel ashamed about being bullied. They may grow to believe what is being said about them is true. This was the case for Scott Walz, an eighteen-year-old Illinois boy who ended his life on March 4, 2010 after nine years of being tormented by bullies – from verbal threats to a choking that nearly led to a blackout. Scott’s mom said Scott believed what the other kids were saying. Words kill, she added in a newspaper interview. And many times, those words remain unheard by those who could help.

Signs that Your Child Has Fallen Victim to a Bully

Physical scars, bruises, and marks are obvious; emotional abuse is not. If your child comes home from school with any type of physical marks, investigate immediately. Ask your child if he has been bullied; if the child remains silent, get to the school. Ask questions. Volunteer in the classroom. Watch what is happening on the playground, in the bathrooms, during art and music class. If you find your child has been abused, go to the administration and demand
resolution. Shutting your eyes to something so critical can have devastating results. The list of young lives lost to suicide after repeated bullying continues to grow, and it will only stop when the bullying does.

If your child is being emotionally or verbally abused, or if someone has been spreading rumors about your child online, you may not see the signs. They don’t appear as broken noses or bloody lips. The following are signs of victimization, and can signal a child has been or is being bullied.
• Withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed
• Skipping school
• Fear of certain places or people
• Anxiousness about going to school, or sadness when returning
• Unexplained physical problems, such as stomachaches and headaches
• Lower grades in school

What to Do If Your Child is Being Bullied

Parents must become part of the solution when a child has been bullied. Children are unable to cope with the attacks and the subsequent emotional scars that result from bullying. They don’t know what to do to make the violence stop, so it is the parent’s job to help. If your child is being bullied:

1. First, prior to this teach your child it is not okay to hit or be hit by others. Dr. Helen McIntosh, author and inventor of the anti-bullying curriculum “The Peace Rug”, starting with teaching that any form of disrespect, such as teasing and name calling, is considered bullying. Explain this to your child. Teach them not to participate in hateful behaviors, and that it is not okay for someone to treat them in this way.

2. Next, says McIntosh, teach your child to tell the bully to stop and walk away. “If the bully persists,” she says, “teach your child to say, “We have a problem. What do you think we need to do to make things better?” Many times this will take care of the problem, as the victim finds his voice and the bully finds a friend. “Usually bullies alienate themselves but really want friends,” McIntosh adds.

3. Don’t play it down. If someone is stealing your child’s lunch or money, this may seem like a ‘small infraction’, something that children have been doing for years; but one episode of violence will lead to others if not stopped. Never take your child’s cries of victimization lightly.Be
proactive.As soon as your child tells you he has been a victim of a bully, react. A parent who does nothing is guilty of allowing the bullying to continue.

4. Ask questions. If you suspect your child is being bullied, ask him. If your child is reluctant to talk to you about bullying, go to the teacher or the school administration. Find out with whom your child plays, and if your child appears scared, withdrawn, moody or depressed while at school. Ask specific questions about bullying: Is there someone in class or on the playground who might be teasing your child; Has the teacher observed any type of bullying behavior; Does your child appear afraid to
go to certain areas of the school when it’s time to do so (playground for recess, cafeteria for lunch.)

5. If you determine your child is being bullied, get immediate help. Start at the school level. Speak to the resource officer, the guidance counselor, the child’s teacher, and the administration. Ask direct questions about
the school’s policy on bullying. What actions will be taken? What can you do to speed the process along, and to resolve the problem? Time is of the essence. If the school doesn’t follow through, go above the school to the county office or the police department. In cases of bullying,there is no overreaction.McIntosh says to tell your child to,“KEEP asking for help until help happens.” She adds that most states now have laws for bullying including a possible transfer to a new school. “Parents need to not minimize the bullying and to check out the situation ASAP. Our children need to know that parents are their safe place and advocates.”

Author's Bio: 

After graduating with a B.A in English, Leslie Youra continued her studies and earned a degree in Education as well. For almost a decade, she taught adults and teenagers ESL, GED preparation and basic skills as well as helping them to find their talents and use them to follow their passion in life. Along with her students, Leslie also helped teachers unlock hidden talents and find their purpose as well. She supervised, motivated and started hundreds of high school students on the road to lifelong learning, greater productivity and growth.

As a mother of three, Leslie firmly believes that every child has the potential to succeed, but won’t experience success unless they’re willing to take action. She applies her vast knowledge and experience in preparing her children for the future by giving them real world practical examples of qualities long forgotten such as hard work, honesty, and responsibility.

Leslie Youra’s entrepreneurial spirit began at a young age and continues to this day. At 11, she began working with her parents in their import export business where she learned the importance of integrity, self motivation and hard work. She and her husband, Rick, now own a successful collision repair company and have used those very principles as they watched their business grow more than 66 percent in 2006. Leslie and Rick set incredibly high standards for themselves and their family. They are avid students, learning to unleash their true potential and teaching their children to do the same.