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How to help a child who is being bullied at school

When children and teenagers are young and innocent, the sting of a bully's words and fists cut deep. Adults know how damaging and scarring these instances are because they can remember them for their entire lives. This is why it can be terrifying to learn that your child is being victimized by bullies, too.

If your child getting bullied, here's what you can do:

1. Establish open lines of communication with your child

Many children who get bullied feel embarrassment and shame that they haven't been able to stick up for themselves, or they're embarrassed that they are so sensitive to the hurtful actions. So much in today's media sends messages that you have to "be tough" and "fight for yourself" that bullying victims could feel like something is wrong with them. Children who have a strong relationship of trust with their parents, however, will feel more confident to tell their parents what's happening and reach out for help.

2. Speak with the teacher or school principal

Make sure the administrators and teachers of your child understand that the bullying is happening. These days, schools have action plans to deal with bullies. Be as specific as possible when describing what's happening to school administrators and teachers, and follow up any conversations in writing so that you have a record of the communication.

3. Teach your child what to do when being bullied

Bullies are scary. Children come in different sizes and temperaments and it's not uncommon for bullies to be twice the size and more physically developed than the children they target. Fighting back is not the best course of action for bullying victims because your child could get hurt. Teach your child to tell the teacher or an adult when bullying is happening.

Your child's school has a legal responsibility to take action to protect your child from getting physically or emotionally abused by other students. If a bully injures your child through physical assault or emotional abuse, the school may be financially liable for the damages and injuries that the bully causes.

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