9 Tips for Outing Bullies
- If your gut tells you your child is being bullied at school, ask questions like "What do you do at recess?" or "Who do you sit with at lunch?" Quietly ask your child's teacher if your kid is the butt of mean jokes. (Most schools now have no-tolerance policies.)
- If you suspect your child's in trouble online, ask "Is anyone bugging you over the computer?" Go over the rules for safe surfing and chatting: "Remain anonymous. Create an alias. Never give out personal info. And never send any photos you wouldn't want me to see."
- Set up the computer your kid uses—which should be in the family room, not the child's bedroom—with child-friendly search engines that filter out junk or worse. It's up to you, but in the name of digital hygiene, I'd keep that filter on and spot-check which sites your child visits. I think it's more than okay for parents to see where their kids spend virtual time.
- Teach your son or daughter not to use their nickname, birthday, address, phone number or any other information that bullies might guess as their personal password.
- Encourage all your kids to tell an adult if they're being bullied. It doesn't have to be you. It could be a coach, teacher, aunt, any adult.
- Encourage kids to join clubs or teams where they'll be part of a group that sticks together. It's a good way to avoid bullies.
- Teach kids that if they're ever bullied in a public place that feels safe (like a busy mall or park), it's okay to stand up for themselves, yell "Stop it!" and walk away.
- If your child is threatened in any way by one bully or a gang of 'em, online or in person, report it to the police.
Don't hesitate to step in. While it's great to have a good, friendly relationship with your child, you are the parent and your top job is to protect your kid's health and well-being. Remember Phoebe Price.