When a child has been assaulted emotionally or physically, their adults have to figure out how to help their child recover, how to get support for their own upset feelings, and how to protect their child from further bullying.
After supporting countless families over many years, here are five recommendations from Kidpower about how parents and other caring adults can help children who have been harmed in this way to heal and grow stronger.
1. Give your child constant reassurance and emotional connection. As hard as it is, try to act calm, positive, and hopeful since your becoming upset will make things harder for your child. Listen and keep listening. Kids need to hear these messages over and over, “I am so glad you told me. What happened was NOT your fault. We are all going to work together to prevent this from happening again.” Find fun activities to do together no matter how busy you are so that you can create new positive experiences. Turn off your technology for a while so that you can really focus on enjoying each other’s company.
2. Arrange professional counseling for both your child and your family. Bullying often affects the whole family and can negatively change a child’s world view. Having outside perspectives and emotional support can make a great difference in how quickly and well a child heals from this upsetting experience. If the assault happened at school, schools can be asked to have their insurance pay for any medical care needed as well as therapy. See Choosing the Right Therapist: https://www.kidpower.org/library/article/choosing-the-right-therapist/
3. Provide protection from retaliation and further aggression. Report any illegal behavior such as physical assaults, sexting, and cyberbullying to authorities including the police, social worker agencies, and school officials. Ensure that the leaders in schools and other youth-serving organizations take clear action, provide better supervision, train teachers and playground supervisors in intervention and protection skills, apologize to your child for what happened, and explain to both your child and you why this will NOT happen again.
Schools and other youth-serving organization vary widely in how effectively they respond to bullying. Some take action right away. Others have to be pressured. Be prepared to advocate for your kids. If any place responsible for the care of your child does not respond adequately, you might need to make hard decisions, such as changing schools or programs, homeschooling, and/or considering your legal options. See Bullying in Schools: 7 Solutions for Parents: https://www.kidpower.org/library/article/bullying-in-schools/
4. Seek opportunities for your child to develop new friendships and and have fun with peers. Find social and recreational activities that are fun for the child in safe settings with adequate adult supervision.
5. Provide your child with self-defense, boundary-setting, and personal safety training. Be sure that the program meets the kinds of standards we uphold in Kidpower. See How to Pick a Good Self-Defense Program: https://www.kidpower.org/library/article/self-defense/
Many families, schools, and youth are using our cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Teaching Books to introduce and teach social safety skills that can help to prevent and stop bullying. https://www.kidpower.org/books/curriculum-teaching-books/
Many families, schools, and youth groups use our book, Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe, as part of their own anti-bullying programs. https://www.kidpower.org/store/products/bullying/
Another book middle and high schools are using to help their teachers provide self-defense programs is One Strong Move: Cartoon-Illustrated Self-Defense Lessons.
For additional resources, see Kidpower’s Bullying Solutions page: https://www.kidpower.org/bullying/
Kids deserve to be safe at school, at play, at home, online, and everywhere they go! Together, we can protect kids who have been severely bullied from harm and give them the tools for protecting themselves.
Published: December 7, 2015 | Last Updated: December 7, 2015