CLEVELAND – October is National Bullying Prevention Month. It’s an issue that impacts many children. In fact, research shows one in every five students reports being bullied.
So, what can parents do to help protect them?
“All of the research shows the number one protective factor for children who are struggling is having at least one trusted adult who they can turn to. So, I recommend to all of the parents I speak with is to set aside 5 to 10 minutes each day just to talk to your kids. It can be about anything,” suggested Zeyd Khan, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist for Cleveland Clinic Children’s.
Dr. Khan said the key is to be consistent with those conversations, that way your child feels more comfortable opening up to you.
Parents should also pay attention for any obvious changes in their behavior, which could indicate that something is wrong. For example, they may keep coming up with reasons why they can’t go to school or they are acting more withdrawn or depressed.
Dr. Khan said a trend he notices with patients he talks to is that many times the child feels alone when they’re being bullied, and it’s just another reason why it’s important for bystanders to intervene.
“Finding a way to pull them from that situation and also interrupt the bully with what they’re doing — because it’s a power struggle at that moment and they’re showing their perceived dominance,” explained Dr. Khan. “And if you’re able to kind of take them away, you’re able to confuse the bully and have a chance to show your support for the victim in those times.”
He said if you are concerned about your child, you can always reach out to their school or pediatrician for help. There are also plenty of great resources available online.