October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

Bullying & Parents

Bullying Often Starts at Home

Looking for bullying information for parents? In this section we’ll explain how elements of the family environment may put their child at risk for bullying others and/or being a victim themselves.

At the end of this section are tips on what parents can do about both bullying and cyberbullying.

Parents of Bullies: How Parents Increase the Risk that Their Child Will Bully Others

One of the best pieces of advice for parents on bullying is to be a good role model for their children on things like anger management, conflict resolution, etc.

Parents, siblings and caregivers all serve as role models for children. From these role models, children will learn how to regular their emotions, how to resolve conflicts and problems, etc. Depending on the family environment though, family members may not be ideal role models.

It’s been shown though that several factors in the family environment are more likely to result in producing children that bully in school. Some of these factors are listed below.

Poor Anger Management

Poor anger management is often a trait of children that bully. Children whose parents display poor anger management skills or lack of emotional regulation are likely to pass these traits on to their children putting them at risk to bully at school.

Authoritarian Parenting Style

Children that bully report that their parents are more authoritarian, teach their children to fight back and use physical punishment as a means of discipline.

Lack of Social Support from Parents and Parent Involvement

Children that bully also report receiving much less social support from their parents when compared with children that don’t bully.

Traits of Parents and Families that Increase the Chance that a Child Will Be a Victim of Bullying

In contrast to the traits described above for parents of bullies, the parents of victims often have the exact opposite traits. Families of victims have high levels of cohesion, less authoritarian parents and lower levels of conflict.

In addition, there are a few other common traits amongst students that are bullied:

  1. Children of single parents or low socioeconomic status families are more likely to be bullied.
  2. Male victims often have overly close relationships with mothers.
  3. Female victims are likely to have mothers who withdraw love.

Children that both bully and are victims of bullying often have parents that display less warmth, are more overprotective and provide inconsistent discipline and monitoring.

Bullying and the Family Statistics

  • 42% of students report often bullying siblings.
  • 24% of students report often being hit or pushed by siblings.
  • 11% of students often beat up their siblings.
  • 57% of bullies and 77% of students that both bully and are victims of bullying report also bullying their siblings.
  • Youth who bully others report negative relationships with siblings and viewed siblings as more powerful than themselves.
  • Victimized youth report positive relationships with siblings.

What Can Parents Do About Bullying? Tips for Parents on Bullying

There’s much that parents can do to both ensure their children aren’t involved in bullying and also to help their children should they be a victim of bullying.

Here’s some advice for parents on bullying:

  • Parents should make sure their children know the lines of communication are open, that they’re not being judged and that their parents are there for them no matter what.
  • Parents should look out for significant changes in mood, behaviour, physical appearance, etc as these are often indicative of a larger problem.
  • Parents should be continually thinking about how they can support their child’s teacher and school (e.g., through volunteering, attending parent-teacher conferences, etc)
  • If your child is playing a role in bullying, admit it and focus on what can be done to affect change.
  • Are you inadvertently teaching your child aggressive behaviour? If so, seeking help for yourself with anger management will benefit your child as well!
  • This has been mentioned many times before in the media, but limiting your children’s access to violent video games, TV, etc can help.
  • There’s a relation between children observing violence in the home and then becoming involved in violence in school. Ensure that your home is violence free and consider seeking help if it’s not.
  • How are problems solved in your house? If aggression is an accepted way of dealing with conflicts in your home, consider seeking help from a counsellor to change that and learn new ways to resolve conflict.

Cyberbullying for Parents – What Can Parents Do About Cyberbullying?

If children at your home have unsupervised access to a computer and the internet, then cyberbullying is a real possibility.

Here’s some cyberbullying information for parents and what parents can do to stop cyberbullying in the home:

  • Have a discussion with your children about the responsible use of technology.
  • In that discussion, explain the consequences of being aggressive towards others online.
  • Ensure that children know their computer, phone, etc are privileges and can be taken away if they’re not using technology responsibly.
  • As parents, educate yourselves about online technologies your children are using including reading official guides produced by popular social networks your children may be on (e.g., Facebook and MySpace both have areas on their websites that parents should read. )
  • Visit the websites your children are visiting.
  • If your children are on social networks, create a profile yourself and become friends with them on the social network.
  • Ensure that computers are kept where parents can see them – NO computers in kids bedroom.

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