Helping Your Child

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If Your Child Is Experiencing Bullying
If Your Child with Disabilities Is Experiencing Bullying
If Your Child Shows Bullying Behavior
If Your Child Witnesses Bullying Behavior
Talk with your kids about tough issues - before someone else does.
Resources

If Your Child Is Experiencing Bullying


When you discover your child is being bullied, you may feel a variety of emotions from anger to fear to sadness. These reactions and emotional responses are natural for parents who want their child to feel valued, protected, and loved. To become an effective advocate for your child, it is important to acknowledge your emotions and then focus on developing an action plan to help your child.

In thinking through your action plan, steps to consider might include:

1. Talk with your child. When you first talk with your child about bullying, be prepared to listen without judgment, and provide a safe and supportive place where your child can work out his or her feelings. Children may not be ready to open up right away as they, too, are dealing with the emotional effects of bullying and may be feeling insecure, frightened, vulnerable, angry, or sad. When your child begins to tell their story, just listen and avoid making judgmental comments. It’s important to learn as much as possible about the situation, such as how long the behavior has been happening, who has been involved, and what steps have been taken. Encourage your child to talk, and let them know they are not alone and you are there to help.

2. Support and empower your child. After hearing your child’s story, empower them to create an action plan to help stop the bullying. Talk with your child about ways you can support them as well as intervention strategies they can use, such as working with the school or advocating on their own. Creating a plan that works with your child’s strengths and abilities can help build self-confidence and resilience. Make sure to share these agreed-upon strategies with those involved in your child’s life, such as teachers, coaches, and other adults who interact with your child on a daily basis.

3. Learn your rights. Check your state’s legislation on bullying. Each state has different laws and policies on bullying, along with requirements on how schools should respond. Visit StopBullying.gov to find out the laws your state has put into place. Also, check your state’s Department of Education website for a state Safe Schools office, which can be a great local resource to learn more about your state and school’s policy. Another option is to look up your school’s policy on bullying.

4. Think through who else should be involved. In addition to being supportive and empowering your child to write down a plan, it can be very helpful to document the steps that you plan to take or have already implemented. Written records provide a history, which can be very helpful. You can also think through your strategy about how to involve others that can help your child. This might include determining who you will contact at school, what you plan to ask them, and how you will be involved. Other options include contacting a guidance counselor or other health professionals for advice. If the situation doesn’t change, your plan might include steps to contact local law enforcement or legal counsel.

5. Get involved in the community. Bullying touches many lives and it might be happening to others in your child’s school or community. You can help by raising awareness through community events, attending workshops or trainings in your community, or sharing information with others.

If Your Child with Disabilities Is Experiencing Bullying


Studies have found that children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers. Parents, educators, and other adults are the most important advocate that a student with disabilities can have and they play an important role in these bullying situations. As a parent of a student with disabilities, it’s important to know about the federal laws and resources specifically designed for your child’s situation.

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be a helpful tool in developing a bullying prevention plan for students with disabilities. Remember, every child receiving special education is entitled to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE), and bullying can sometimes become an obstacle to receiving that education. The IEP team, which includes the parent, can identify strategies that can be written into the IEP to help stop bullying. When appropriate, it may be helpful to involve the child in this decision-making process.

Parents have legal rights when their child with a disability is the target of bullying or disability harassment. According to a 2000 Dear Colleague Letter from the Office of Civil Rights, “States and school districts also have a responsibility…to ensure that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is made available to eligible students with disabilities. Disability harassment may result in a denial of FAPE under these statutes.” Under these federal laws, schools are required to respond to harassment or bullying of a student with a disability. The school must provide immediate and appropriate action to investigate, communicate with targeted students regarding steps to end harassment, eliminate any hostile environment, and prevent harassment from recurring. If the school is not taking necessary action, parents may consider filing a formal grievance with the Office of Civil Rights.

The following resources can be used to help create an action plan for your child and family:

Bullying and Harassment of Students with Disabilities - Top 10 Facts for Parents, Educators and Students This handout provides an overview of important facts about students with disabilities and bullying for parents, educators and students.

Helpful Resources for Students with Disabilities

Books, videos, and stories are powerful ways to share messages of inclusion, acceptance, and understanding. We’ve compiled a variety of resources that you can share with your classroom and follow-up with thoughtful group discussion.

Peer Advocacy This webpage provides information on the peer advocacy model for preventing bullying of students with disabilities.

IEP and Bullying Students with disabilities who are eligible for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will have an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which can be a helpful tool in a bullying prevention plan. This handout provides more information on the IEP and bullying.

Notifying the School About Bullying – Using a Template Letter (View as a handout ) Parents should contact school staff each time their child informs them that he or she has been bullied. PACER Center has created template letters that parents may use as a guide for writing a letter to their child’s school. These letters contain standard language and “fill in the blank” spaces so the letter can be customized for your child’s situation.

The following letters are for parents who have a child with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan:

Version for a Student with a 504 Plan (Word Doc | Pdf )

Version for a Student with an IEP Plan (Word Doc | Pdf )

Student Action Plan Against Bullying The student action plan is an opportunity for students to develop a strategy to change their current bullying situation. This can be done on their own or with the help a parent or teachers.

Bullying and Disability Harassment in the Workplace: What Youth Should Know . Much is understood about the negative consequences of bullying at school, but youth should also be made aware that bullying can also be encountered at work. This InfoBrief was developed by PACER Center in partnership with the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth to help youth, including those with disabilities, recognize signs of bullying in the workplace. It offers examples of bullying situations at work and strategies to help address the issue.

If Your Child Shows Bullying Behavior


Many parents are surprised to learn that their child is showing bullying behavior. Often, they have no idea that their child is exhibiting these behaviors. If you find out your child or student is bullying, it’s important to know that bullying is a behavior and that behavior can be changed. Students bully for many reasons, including peer pressure or being bullied themselves. Your child may not realize how much he or she is harming someone, what impact their actions are having on another child, or may not label their behavior as bullying.

The first step is to talk with your child about why he or she is showing the behavior. This conversation should allow your child to explore how they may be feeling, to speak up if they are being bullied by someone else, and to talk about other factors that may be leading to this behavior. Try to understand your child’s feelings and show that you hear what they are telling you. Help your child understand how others feel when they are bullied and let them know that everyone has feelings that matter. Role playing can be helpful to teach your child or student different ways of handling situations, along with helping them understand how their behavior is impacting someone else.

Finally, it is important to be realistic as it takes time to change behavior. Be patient with your child as they learn new ways of handling feelings and conflict. Provide praise and recognition when your child handles conflict well or finds a positive way to deal with their feelings. This type of positive reinforcement goes a long way!

The following resources can be used to help create an action plan for your child and family:

Student Action Plan Against Bullying The student action plan is an opportunity for students to develop a strategy to change bullying behavior. This can be done on their own or with the help of a parent or teachers.

Safety in the Online Community: A conversation with your 13-year-old about Facebook and Instagram This guide helps parents talk with their teens about using popular social networking sites Facebook and Instagram. It covers setting up a new account, safety tips, and commonly asked questions. This guide is accompanied by discussion points for talking with your child and steps for responding to harassing content.

What If Your Child IS the Bully? Could your child be bullying others? Would you know? Once you found out, would you know what to do? Here is some information that can help.

Parents of Elementary School Students Visit PACER’s Kids Against Bullying website with your child and check out the following pages:

Students Who Bully- What Can They Do?

This resource helps students understand the reasons why bullying may occur and encourages them to think about new ways to respond.

Parents of Middle and High School Students

If your teen is demonstrating bullying behavior, encourage them to visit PACER’s Teens Against Bullying website and check out the following pages:

Initiating Bullying?

This page features reasons why teens may think bullying is okay and the reality behind these thoughts.

Could You Be a Bully? Quiz

This quiz can help teens recognize that their words and actions might be bullying behavior.

If Your Child Witnesses Bullying Behavior


Nearly 60 percent of bullying situations end when a peer intervenes, giving students an important role in bullying prevention. However, many students are unsure how to take the first step. As a parent, it’s important to have the discussion with kids and teens about the power they have to help others.

The simplest action parents can tell students to take is not to join in. This sends the message that they don’t agree with what’s happening and takes attention away from the person bullying. Students can also help by telling an adult about the bullying, since the student who is being bullied might not be able to do it themselves. With this action, it is important to discuss the difference between telling and tattling. Telling is done to protect yourself or another student from getting hurt, whereas tattling is done to purposely get someone in trouble.

Finally, the most effective step to encourage your child or student to take is to show support for the student being bullied. Ask your student how they would feel if they were being bullied, and how they would want someone to support them. They can show support by talking to the student being bullied, telling them what happened isn’t okay, or inviting the student to join them in an activity. With lots of options, encourage your child to do what feels right for them.

The following resources can be used to help create an action plan for your child and family:

Student Action Plan Against Bullying

The student action plan is an opportunity for students to develop a strategy to take action against bullying. This can be done on their own or with the help a parent or teachers.

Elementary School Student - If You See Bullying

This is a visually friendly, age appropriate handout for early learners, or for parents to use when talking with their child that includes tips about handling a bullying situation.

Talk to Your Child About Bullying

This resource can help parents prepare themselves to talk with their children by considering how they are going to handle their child’s questions and emotions. They can also decide what information they would like to give their child about bullying

Steps To Take If Your Child Is Being Bullied At School

This guide contains three helpful steps parents can take if their child is being bullied at school, including work with your child, work with the school, and work with district administration.

Parents of Elementary School Students

Visit PACER’s Kids Against Bullying website with your child and check out the following pages:

If You See Bullying – What Can You Do?

There are lots of things students can do to help when they see someone being bullied. This resource covers a variety of actions students can take.

How You Can Help – Videos

These videos show students how they can prevent bullying and support those who are being bullied.

Parents of Middle and High School Students

If your teen witnesses bullying, encourage them to visit PACER’s Teens Against Bullying website and check out the following pages:

Student-Created Videos

These videos help students understand what bullying can look like and what they can do to prevent it.

Reach Out

The more students know about bullying, the greater their ability to prevent it. This page provides websites with additional insights and activities to help educate and empower teens.

Cyberbullying

This page gives tips on how teens can protect themselves from cyberbullying, prevent themselves from bullying others, and what to do if they see cyberbullying happen.
Source:
www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/helping-your-child.asp

Resources to help create an action plan for your child and family


1. Notifying the School About Bullying – Using a Template Letter. Parents should contact school staff each time their child informs them that he or she has been bullied. PACER Center has created template letters that parents may use as a guide for writing a letter to their child’s school. These letters contain standard language and “fill in the blank” spaces so the letter can be customized for your child, including letters customized for children with disabilities.

2. Student Action Plan Against Bullying The student action plan is an opportunity for students to develop a strategy to change their current bullying situation. This can be done on their own or with the help a parent or teachers.

3. Cyberbullying: What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Children The internet has become a place for children to post mean and inappropriate comments about their peers. This 8-page booklet has information for parents on how to address cyberbullying with their child and what steps to take if their child is being bullied online.

4. Drama: Is It Happening to You? It’s important for students to know that bullying is never their fault. They have the right to make it stop, but they never have to do it own their own. This resource gives teens three steps to handle a bullying situation at school.

5. Elementary School Students - If You Are a Target (Of Bullying) This is a visually friendly, age appropriate handout for early learners, or for parents to use when talking with their child that includes tips about handling a bullying situation.

6. Safety in the Online Community: A conversation with your 13-year-old about Facebook and Instagram . This guide helps parents talk with their teens about using the popular social networking sites Facebook and Instagram. It covers setting up a new account, safety tips, and commonly asked questions. This guide is accompanied by discussion points for talking with your child and steps for responding to harassing content.

7. Talk to Your Child About Bullying

This resource helps parents prepare themselves to talk with their child about bullying and includes tips on how to respond to their child’s questions and emotions.

8. Steps To Take If Your Child Is Being Bullied At School This guide contains three helpful steps parents can take if their child is being bullied at school, including work with your child, work with the school, and work with district administration.

9. Parents of Elementary School Students: Visit PACER’s Kids Against Bullying website with your child and check out the following pages:

10. Targets of Bullying – What Can They Do? This handout provides tips for elementary school students who are being bullied. Parents can use this resource when talking with their child about bullying experiences.

How Bullying Feels (video)

Bullying brings up many emotions, such as anger, confusion and sadness. This video shows elementary school students that they are not alone.

Parents of Middle and High School Students: If your teen is experiencing bullying, encourage them to visit PACER’s Teens Against Bullying website and check out the following pages:

Are You Being Bullied? Quiz Bullying can happen to anyone and it’s not always easy to recognize. This quiz helps teens recognize what bullying is and if it might be happening to them.

Reasons Teens Don’t Tell This page provides reasons why teens may not tell a parent or an adult about a bullying situation.

Advice Gone Wrong When talking about bullying, it’s important for parents to give good advice and provide solutions that work. This page shares the advice that adults should avoid giving to teens.

Cyberbullying This page gives tips on what teens can do if they are being cyberbullied.

 
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