The Student Assistance Program provides families with support and resources for students who have been traumatized by bullying.
It’s every parent’s nightmare. Your child suddenly becomes fearful and withdrawn, and you finally learn the reason. Your child is being bullied.
Unfortunately, some schools fail to respond forcefully, despite so-called “zero-tolerance” policies. A true zero-tolerance policy, such as CCA’s, cuts off bullying at the source and helps the child who has been bullied heal, recover and return to a feeling of safety and security.
At the first sign of bullying, parents have options. Learn these signs your child is being bullied, and you will have the power to make it stop.
Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied
Never assume your child will come to you if they’re being bullied. The fact is, most children who have been bullied won’t voluntarily tell an adult about their predicament. They might fear retaliation by the bully. They might be determined to handle the situation themselves or believe that sharing their plight will make them feel more humiliated than they already are. Targets of cyberbullying might even fear that parents will react by taking away their electronic devices.
That’s why a parent should ask, “What are the signs my child is being bullied?” Watch for these indicators.
- Unexplainable injuries. If your child won’t say how they got a bruise or cut, or if the explanation doesn’t seem plausible, it’s time to investigate.
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry.
- Frequent headaches, stomachaches or faked illness. Bullying can cause genuine physical reactions, or your child might be faking illness to get out of school and away from bullies.
- Changes in eating habits. Your child might skip meals or suddenly become a binge eater. If they come home from school extra hungry, it might be because they didn’t eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares.
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or refusing to go to school. Bullying has real consequences on academic progress. In the classroom, typical post-bullying issues include higher anxiety levels, fear of being called on, a preference for watching recorded lessons instead of live participation, distrust and discomfort with teachers, and fear of getting in trouble for reaching out to teachers.
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations: A bullied child might withdraw from extracurricular activities or playtime out of depression or fear of encountering the bullies.
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem. Bullying makes the target feel powerless to control or change the situation.
- Self-destructive behaviors, such as running away, harming themselves or talking about suicide. (If your child talks about suicide or you have fears about suicide, immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.)
Bullying can take many forms. It’s not just physical aggression. It can include teasing, being the subject of rumors, deliberately being left out of activities, and cyberbullying via social media and texts.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Child Is Being Bullied
If you suspect your child is being bullied, don’t hesitate. Bullying tolerated is bullying that grows stronger every day, while bullied children risk consequences to their physical and mental health immediately and for a lifetime.
Try these tips to learn more about the situation and take action.
- Start a conversation with your child: Comment on the changes you’ve noticed. Don’t have the conversation right before or after school but at a time when your child is calmer. Don’t put responsibility on your child. Ask open-ended questions. For instance, don’t ask, “What did you say to bring this on?” Instead, try, “I noticed you’re not playing with your friends anymore. Will you tell me why?”
- Ask the teacher and school administrators for help: Your child’s teacher is trained in responding to these situations and wants your child to feel safe and at their best in the classroom. If the teacher doesn’t respond, climb the school hierarchy. Pennsylvania law requires all schools to have written policies that address bullying and identify the personnel who can hear complaints.
- Don’t confront the bully or the bully’s parents: You and your child are not responsible for “problem-solving” by “talking things out.” That’s for personality conflicts and genuine disagreements, not for abusive behavior and aggression.
- Teach prevention skills: Bullies get addicted to the sense of power that bullying delivers. Take away their power by role-playing with your child ways to deflect the situation by walking away, using humor and telling trusted adults what’s happening. If your child is being cyberbullied, don’t take away electronics. Change privacy settings and teach your child not to respond to provocations.
- Consider changing schools: Schools are required to have anti-bullying policies, but they aren’t required to enforce them to the max. If your child feels unsafe in a brick-and-mortar setting, consider CCA. CCA takes bullying seriously and halts it at the source.
CCA’s Resources for Children Being Bullied
Children shouldn’t be forced to attend a school where they feel unsafe. Fortunately, they have a choice. CCA delivers a high-quality education aligned with state standards. Plus, CCA families and students have control over their contacts with fellow students, and they bring learning into the safety of the home. In fact, a recent survey of CCA families found that not feeling safe and bullying at their previous schools were among the top reasons that families made the switch.
Because so many of our students are seeking refuge from bullying, we work hard to ensure their safety and help them heal. Our approach incorporates:
- A safe place to learn: Children who spend the day learning in the home environment aren’t thrust into stressful situations. They don’t have to conform to pressure from cliques or endure the taunting of bullies. They can build their own social circles, while parents have the assurance of knowing where their child is all day.
- Student Assistance Program: This is a requirement of all schools in Pennsylvania, but CCA puts teeth in it. Teachers, family mentors and parents are trained in the red flags of bullying. When a child has been or is being bullied, the SAP steps in. A certified case manager works with the family to access community resources, such as individual counseling, support groups and mentoring programs. Students might get accommodations and supports to help them succeed, both academically and personally. That might include a change in classes or an opportunity to attend virtual class in faceless form, to avoid inducing even greater anxiety and fear. Just like CCA’s academics, it’s all personalized to the needs of the child.
- School counseling support: Guidance lessons for elementary, middle and high school students teach children what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, what to do if they see bullying or are being bullied, and how to get help.
- Bullying awareness: CCA teachers get to know their students better than they would in brick-and-mortar schools. When they spot the warning signs of bullying — as they’ve been trained and encouraged to do — they are empowered to make referrals to the SAP. CCA’s family mentors, our corps of veteran parents recruited to offer advice and support to new families, are also trained to spot the signs of bullying and empowered to make SAP referrals.
- Rapid response: Parents are assured that anything they share about bullying will be addressed promptly. In fact, CCA parents and students can go directly to the SAP with their concerns for access to help. Bullies are not tolerated or given an opportunity to make excuses for their behavior.
No place is immune to bullying, especially now that cyberbullying is pervasive. Like forest fire watchers, CCA is constantly scanning the horizon and its community of families for signs of bullying. At the first warning, CCA stamps out bullying and makes sure children are safe, happy and eager to learn.
Make CCA Your Bully-Free Choice
Every child deserves to learn in a safe environment. The child who fears the school day is sure to recoil from schoolwork. The joys of learning are extinguished, and school becomes a daily punishment. CCA turns the equation around. Children learn in the safety of their homes. Those who came to us to escape bullying get the help they need to recover and find their true selves again. Those who encounter bullying as CCA students are ensured a swift and effective response.
When bullying is sidelined, your child shines. Learn more about CCA’s efforts to provide support and resources for students who have been traumatized by bullying, so they can rediscover the joy of learning. Enroll today!