Saturday, October 22, 2011

Where are the parents?

Where are the parents?

While spending a wonderful Saturday at the park with my sons I was abruptly awaken out of my afternoon bliss by a stick to the head.  Two 10ish year old boys were throwing sticks at an injured squirrel in a tree above me.  I politely asked them to stop several times as the sticks kept hitting my family and the already injured squirrel.  After requesting the kids stop no less than five times one of my sons said “where are there parents?”  Good question.  When I asked them they said “I do not know” and continued to torture the poor squirrel. 

Bullying usually occurs when the parents or adults are out of site.  Bathrooms, the bus, the playground and after school walking home are perfect places for children to be bullied since there are few, if any adults around.  What makes it even more complicated is that sometimes the bully acts like a prefect angel in front of adults and his/her parents.

So what is a parent to do?  Talk to your children and make them aware of when and where bullying most likely happens.  This information may help them make better choices on where to position themselves– perhaps to sit at a lunch table close to the lunchroom staff or a seat in the bus close to the bus driver.  Also, find out from your school who is in charge of the lunchroom, the playground, before and after school grounds monitoring.  Make sure your child knows who is in charge during the times.  If they are bullied or observe someone being bullied, have them inform the adult in charge and you.   

As a side note, according to a study done by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Northeastern University, animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against another.  Yes, I know it is “only” a squirrel but as another observant and caring parent at the park said to me “today it is a squirrel, tomorrow it is a cat, and ten years from now it is a human”. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stopping Bullies From Tormenting Your Child: Key Steps For Parents

When parents or members of the media ask us: "What are the most important steps to take if one finds out their child is being bullied?" It is really simple, but takes some tenacity and determination from a parent to stop their child's torment comprehensively and quickly:

The key steps:

  • Get the full story and all of the facts quickly
  • Stay as calm as you can, but be assertive
  • Document the incidents in writing with dates, participants and descriptions
  • Call the principal and teacher team for a meeting quickly
  • Bring your documentation and your most respectful, yet determined, self to the meeting
  • At the meeting:
    • Require the parents of the bully be informed of his/her behavior
    • Require the bully and his parents sign a document (see our family contract in our book, "When Your Child Is Being Bullied:Real Solutions" ) that guarantees all bullying, speaking about the bullied child/bullying incidents and malice will cease immediately
    • Require that both the bully and the bullied child move on from the incident and agree to be civil to one another moving forward (they don't have to be friends, but must be respectful)
  • Never have the bully and the bullied child hash it out in a "peer to peer conflict resolution" meeting - this only re-victimizes the victim and makes the bully angrier
If the above does not work immediately, see our additional recommendations in the book. Frequently the above is enough, but often times it is not and we have many more recommendations that will work well.

 In our book, When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions (, outlines a full plan (yes, unfortunately you will need it - these things tend to be messy and complicated) designed to be customizable to your child's specific needs and their specific challenge.

When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions is available on and