As Needed Green Dots for Parents…
No matter how much you do to protect your kids from bullying and violence, it is likely that your child will be exposed one way or another. You child might be involved as the person doing some potential bullying or aggressive behaviors; or the person who is being hut; or the person who is witnessing the aggression. Many children can be in more than one role. If your child is involved in dating or bullying violence in some way-it doesn’t mean you are a terrible parent. What it does mean is that your child needs your help. By doing some of the green dots below, you can help provide the “medicine” that can move your child away from harmful relationships and toward positive, healthy relationships.
Behaviors That May Be Bullying… *Bullying information adapted in part from Olweus, 1993
Physical: the things they do Relational: how they treat others Verbal: the things they say
Cyberbullying: what they do online General: other troubling behaviors
- Teen talks about responding to others in a way that may result in discipline from school.
- Teen uses verbal or physical aggression to deal with conflict.
- Teen comes home with items/money that don’t belong to him/her.
- Teen spends time with peers who appear aggressive.
- Teen struggles to express feelings.
- Teen is unable to play cooperative games with others, becoming angry when they lose a competitive game.
- Teen talks about “getting even” with others.
- Teen reacts to questions with anger, defensiveness or avoidance.
- Teen often puts down others in conversations.
EMOTIONAL: Nightmares or panic attacks. Mood swings and talks about feeling hopeless; leaving; or suicide; Threatens violence to self and others; seems fearful. Loss of interest in activities: Signs of stress including: tense, anvious, tired, listless, sad.
PHYSICAL: Reports “losing” belongings or lunch money, or coming home with clothes or books destroyed. Changes in eating or sleeping patterns. Displays body language including: hangs head, eyes low, shoulders slumped
RELATIONAL: Expresses feelings of rejection and not being liked. Changes his/her behavior with angry outbursts or becoming more aggressive towards siblings. Becomes socially isolated. Teen may begin to bully others.
ACADEMIC: Complains of illness and does not want to go to school. May take, or try to take, “protection” to school. Unwilling to leave the house or ride the bus; may change their route to school or ask you drive them; may skip school. Do poorly.
- Extreme jealousy, hypersensitive and controlling.
- Verbally abusive and threatens violence
- Has unpredictable mood swings, with instances of explosive anger
- Uses drugs and alcohol that is not just experimentation
- Isolates their partner from friends and family
- Uses force during argument (physical and emotional)
- Believes in rigid sex roles (for example: women are a possession)
- Blames others for his or her problems or feelings
- Has a history of abusive relationships
- Falling or failing grades
- Your teen stops giving her/his own opinion
- Changes in mood or personality (depression, lower self-confidence)
- Boyfriend or girlfriend is always texting or calling wanting to know here partner is ; who they have been with, etc.
- Use of drugs/alcohol
- Unexplained emotional outbursts
- Isolated from family and friends
- Makes excuses for the abusers behavior or take the blame for their behavior.
- Partner is extremely jealous.
- Starts to make changes in appearance.
- Your teen seems anxious or obsessively preoccupied with the person s/he dating
- Your teen is being unusually secretive
- Your teen has significant changes in eating or sleeping habits, is avoiding eye contact or family conversation.
- Loses interest in activities s/he used to enjoy
- Your teen may casually mention his/her violence behavior, but laughs it off as a joke.
- S/he often has unexplained injuries, or the explanations she offers don’t make sense.
- Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
- Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
- Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
- An STD or pregnancy
- Runs away from home
- Self harm (cutting, burning, drugs, alcohol
- Inadequate personal hygiene.
- Depression or anxiety
- Suicide attempts
- Compulsive eating or dieting.
If you see warning signs your teen is experiencing bullying, ask them directly.
- Offer comfort.
- Tell them it is not their fault.
- Make safety plans (i.e., an older sibling walking them to school; talk to school about additional supervision at lunch)
- Help strengthen social support of your teen.
-Encourage them to join a clun.
-Invite a friend over.
Avoid minimizing the behavior of the bull or dating partner.
You don’t have to jump in right away. There are many situations teens can manage on their own with your coaching and guidance. To determine how involved you need to be, ask yourself:
- Is my kid in danger?
- How can I best help my kid stay safe?
- What additional information do I need?
- Where can I go for help?
If your teen’s safety or school performance is suffering, it is important that you intervene. Consider these options:
- Talk to your teen about best options. Why s reporting important? What are the consequences of reporting for the teen? Is there a way to both report and minimize further harm to the teen?
Make yourself familiar with the process of handling violence incidents.
- Who handles reports?
- How is your teen’s confidentiality protected?
- How are investigations managed?
- How is communication with parents handled?
- What are the options if your teen is afraid to go to school?
- Is there a safety plan developed?
If the bullying or harassment involves cyberbullying, consider: reporting to the Internet Service Provider (ISP), problem-solving with school officials, changing the phone number.
If you suspect your teen is a victim of dating or sexual violence:
- Offer support.
- I’m glad you told me and it’s not your fault.
- What can I do to help you?
- Avoid forbidding your teen to see their boy/girl friend.
- Empower your teen to make good decisions.
Use non-violence consequences, like a loss of a privilege.
- If it’s cyber-bullying, restrict unsupervised access to phone, computer, etc.
Talk to your teen about his/her behavior.
- Be firm and clear that bullying or aggressive behavior in a relationship is not okay.
- Assure the teen you still love them and will help them stop the behavior.
- Talk to you teen about his/her feelings. See what they are struggling with and help them with problem solving.
Look for and create opportunities to praise teen for non-aggressive, empathic activities.
Strongly consider counseling for you and your teen.
Engage your teen in positive activities such as volunteering, family activities and community or faith based groups.
Do not protect your teen from the natural consequences of his/her actions.
Talk to them about the problem:
- What are they seeing?
- Is it dangerous enough that someone needs to do something immediately?
- What are their options to help as a bystander?
- What are their fears of getting involved?
- What would they want someone else to do for them?
- Are there ways to help that might reduce some of the fears?
Encourage your teen to be kind and inclusive of the victim) i.e., ask him/her to sit with them at lunch, walk with them to school, hang out with them after school, etc.).
Talk about creative ways to interrupt a bullying situation by: creating a distraction, asking about homework, showing a video on phone, etc.
Talk to your teen about not reinforcing the bully or laughing or joining in.
*This toolkit was written and produced by Dr. Dorothy J. Edwards