This back-to-school season may look a little different, but no matter what learning environment kids find themselves in this fall, bullying is a real cause for concern.
One in five kids aged 12 to 18 has encountered bullying, according to StopBullying.gov. It can happen in person, online or even by text. In an effort to combat the problem, Pilot Pen launched the Erase Bullying for Good campaign in 2015 to help support bullying prevention programs in schools nationwide. For a smooth start to the school year, they are offering parents these back-to-school tips for facing the issue:
- Sometimes kids hesitate to share negative situations they’re encountering. That doesn’t mean they aren’t showing signs that something is wrong. Pay attention to sudden changes in mood, sleep patterns, study habits or other signs of stress. Let kids know that if they’re bullied or witness bullying, it’s okay to come to you or another trusted adult, like a teacher, counselor or coach. A strong trust network helps kids feel safe and empowered.
- If your child is being bullied, reassure them that they’re not alone and have done nothing wrong. Let them know you’ll work through this together. Follow up with school officials to ensure the negative behavior is being addressed, especially if your child is being physically bullied or feels like they’re in danger.
- The presence of digital devices and broad reach of social media means more avenues for bullies to reach their targets. Maintain an open dialogue with your child regarding online activity, and don’t be shy about keeping an eye on profiles and posts.
- Being the target of bullying can feel isolating and overwhelming. If your child witnesses bullying, encourage them to be an “upstander,” not just a bystander. This involves being an ally who stands up to bullies, and it can be as simple as seeking help from an adult, or as ambitious as starting an anti-bullying program at school.
- It can be disheartening to learn that your own child has engaged in bullying. Remember, bullying is a behavior, and behaviors can be changed. Help your child identify underlying feelings that may be causing them to act out in this way and encourage them to find positive outlets such as sports, art or journaling.
- It’s important for kids to understand that the goal of bullying is to make the victim feel scared or powerless. Parents can equip children with the knowledge, resources and confidence they need to feel empowered in the face of bullying, as well as with tools that align with this cause. By the end of 2020, the Erase Bullying for Good campaign, through purchases of Pilot’s FriXion Erasable pens, will have contributed more than $450,000 to organizations committed to bringing bullying prevention and education programs to US schools. FriXion’s unique, thermo-sensitive erasable ink writes smoothly and erases cleanly, so students, teachers and parents can write, create and express themselves fearlessly without the stress of written mistakes, empowering them to be upstanders through the written word. To learn more, visit HelpEraseBullying.com.
Bullying is all too common. However, parents can play an active role in helping put a stop to it this back-to-school season and beyond.