Having your child bullied at school is one of the greatest fears of parents – and research shows this fear is well founded. School bullying has been described as the single most important threat to the mental health of children and adolescents.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t?
So when parents find out their child is being bullied, they are right to be concerned. But what exactly should they do about it? Should they tell the school, approach the parents of the other child, or just let their child deal with it?
It can be difficult to weigh up the sometimes conflicting advice given to parents. Parents desperately want to help their child, but if they jump in too quickly to protect their child they can be labelled as over-protective or over-indulgent.
School authorities often recommend parents leave the school to handle it. This is fine if the school is successful in stopping the bullying. However, this is not always the case. Most school programs to address bullying make only modest improvements, leaving some children to continue to be bullied.
This could be why we often hear of parents taking matters into their own hands. This can lead to uncertain legal ground if parents reprimand other children and to ugly arguments between parents. Clearly none of these approaches is ideal.