How to Help Your Teen If They are Being Bullied

Research shows that teens who are bullied may become vulnerable to mental illness. Yet, it’s not only the victim of bullying that is hurt by bullying. Bullying harms both the teen being bullied and the person doing the bullying. Yet, those experiencing the bullying may experience anxiety and depression as a result. And there are many cases in which teen who have been bullied have committed suicide because of the bullying they experienced.

Bullying is the overt behavior of a teen to belittle a child, teen, or adult and to make that person feel inadequate. It can include harassment, physical harm, demeaning speech and efforts to ostracize that person. Bullying is an active behavior and is done with intention to harm another, whether physically or emotionally.

There are typically three roles involved in bullying. The first is the bully who often expresses aggression because they feel jealous, insecure, out of control, or simply, not good enough. Secondly, there is the target, the one who is the recipient of a bully’s aggression. Often, the target feels as though they deserves the harsh treatment, that it’s their fault, and feels powerless to take action. Finally, the role of the bystander is also important. Although there is a strong pull for a bystander to also feel afraid to take action (fearing consequences from the bully), they can play a significant role in putting an end to the bullying.

If you are a parent or caregiver who is wants to help a teen put an end to the bullying they are experiencing, here are suggestions to do so:

Teach your teen to take back control. This is not always effective, but it can be one of the first steps to take. However, it’s important to note that a target does not need to fight a bullying classmate on their own. But simply putting the power back into a target’s hands can help them feel strong enough to take some sort of action.

Encourage your teen to seek the assistance of peers and teachers. One such action that a target of bullying can take is to reach out for help. They might begin to do this by sharing as much as possible about the bullying with those who feel safe and trustworthy. In fact, a target might seek the support of bystanders. There are safe steps a bystander can take while remaining anonymous. Just like the target, a bystander can talk to an adult. If anonymity is desired, a bystander can talk to a school counselor in order keep a conversation confidential. Depending on the level of involvement, a bystander might also want to help create an action plan for the target’s safety and even the safety of others.

Create an action plan with your teen. This might include the specific action steps that your teen as well as you might do to stop the bullying. For instance, you might research the local, state, and federal laws that can facilitate a teen’s safety from bullying. The action plan might also include involving the bully into a discussion. By bringing the problem to the attention of parents, teachers, and peers, perhaps a safe conversation with the bully can take place in order to address the concerns. Perhaps safely discussing the reasons behind the bully’s aggression can curtail future displays of anger in the form of bullying.

These are suggestions for putting an end to the bullying your teen is experiencing. Keep in mind that there are many local, state, and federal organizations  that can assist with keeping your teen safe from harm.