How to Detect Child Bullying and Help Children Navigate School Violence
Today’s world is extremely unpredictable, and it can often be difficult to reach a sustainable resolution when it comes to school violence. Sometimes, parents are at a loss for what to do, especially if school administrators are unaware or dismissive of apparent conflict.
Bullying problems are happening right here in South Dade
After consistent bullying on a school bus for the Coconut Palm K-8 school in Homestead, two concerned parents had to pull their kids from the school because there was never any resolution. Instead of looking for a solution, the administration allowed violence to overshadow and win over education, which simply isn’t something that parents and innocent children should have to deal with.
This disturbing situation was eventually handled by law enforcement, but it should have never escalated to that point in the first place. Unfortunately, it isn’t entirely uncommon—as 1 in 5 students report being bullied nationwide.
With no clear way to go about it, seeking professional guidance is important, especially when a child’s developmental health is at stake.
Thankfully, Dr. Rina S. Santiago-Guia took some time to answer some of our questions on the topic to help parents understand how they can better look out for their kids and help influence and encourage a safer school environment. An expert on the topic, she helps students and victims of bullying at her clinic, Monarch All Health, LLC.
How to recognize the signs of bullying
Dr. Santiago-Guia encourages speaking to your children each day about school activities, maintaining regular contact with their teachers, and just keeping up with their routine. The more involved you are, the easier it is to spot behavioral changes.
Some of the most common signs that a child is experiencing bullying or other hardships in school include new and unusual aggressiveness at home and disinterest in things that they normally enjoy. If you notice any of these changes, consider speaking with their teacher to gain more insight. Children that seek external validation or appear to be “people-pleasers” are more likely than others to fall victim to bullying, that’s why building confidence from a young age is so important.
Strategies to approach bullying concerns
When it comes to younger children, reading is an extremely effective way to educate them on bullying in an engaging way. Dr. Santiago-Guia recommends the book The Not-So-Friendly Friend: How to Set Boundaries for Healthy Friendships, by Christina Furnival.
When kids get a bit older, it’s common for them to be embarrassed to talk about what they’re going through. This is why an open line of communication in your home is so important, so do your best to show empathy and validation any time your child expresses their feelings to you. Even if you feel tempted to correct them, that validation goes a long way and will make them feel more comfortable coming to you in the future.
Building self-esteem and positive home dynamics
It’s more important than most people think to give children room to advocate for themselves. Dr. Santiago-Guia explains, “Allowing a child to respectfully speak up for themselves at home will increase the chances of them speaking up for themselves outside the home when faced with a bullying situation.” It’s important for parents to foster a dynamic at home that empowers them to stand up for themselves outside of it. She also suggests that age-appropriate chores and other responsibilities can help build self-esteem in young children.
At the end of the day, parents can’t control what goes on at school, they can only do their best to provide their children with the tools necessary to navigate difficult situations and communicate openly. Creating a safe and inviting home environment is key, along with supporting their development to build self-esteem and giving them space to advocate for themselves.
For more information on bullying and managing school violence, you can contact Dr. Rina at www.monarchallhealth.com.
Click para leerlo en Español: Cómo detectar el acoso infantil ayudar a los niños a superar la violencia escolar