Article 3


Parents: Is your child being bullied?


3rd of 3 Articles on Bullying Originally published in the Advisor


Last article focused on the reactions. The 1st two reviewed were Fight and Flight. These are the reactions a bully would most expect; these are often reactions that re-enforce that bullying is fun.


Then we reviewed “Right”, a response, rather than reaction that would make the bully uncomfortable.


The skills mentioned included:


·         Expressionless face. Do not smile or laugh

·         Maintain eye contact (longer than usual, but not too long)

·         Calm, slow, controlled voice  

·         State a very clear message- not in response to the bully, but a statement of what you want. (ie Go away. Get lost.)

·         State message, long silence, state message, long silence 3x’s (Be directive)

·         Do not be drawn into what the bully is saying.  Do not respond to insults.

·         Stay with your message and when ready (not while being goaded) walk away.

·         Use a lot of silence and intermittent eye contact

·         Use a well-balanced physical stance, incase pushed or punched. The less the reaction to any physical contact the better.

·         Children: Tell an adult you trust about the problem. Not necessarily

for them to take action, but for them to give advice, practice the skills with you and give emotional support.



Also important is prevention. Prevention does not mean stopping your child from ever being bullied. As unfair as it is, being bullied is part of life.  In fact, in it’s initial stage, it is simply a social test. Respond correctly, and in most cases you (your child) passes the test and is seldom bullied again. React incorrectly and the bullying may start to escalate in both frequency and intensity.












How do you prevent your child from being bullied on a regular basis?


·         Have your children be accompanied by other children as often as possible.

·         Lobby for Anti-Bullying instruction at schools, community centers, youth groups etc. Stopping a bully is a skill.

·         Go to anti-bullying workshops in your community.  Many local schools have had and will have future educational sessions.  Email bully_back_off@yahoo.com for information on upcoming sessions.

·         Learn and guide others. Not all teachers, coaches, youth workers etc., have training in what to do about bullying, so be wary of well meaning advice, or drastic actions.

·         At the 1st sign that your child is being bullied on a regular basis, get them additional training.

·         And here is the most important suggestion: Teach your children the skills/techniques outlined above.  Make up potential scenarios with them and practice. Have them practice in the mirror.


Swimming Analogy:

If you what your child to not drown then have them practice swimming. Don’t wait till they fall in the river!  We do not, however, learn how to swim without lessons, and coaching,  The above noted skills work, but only with coaching, practice, and constructive feedback, and more practice. Get them lessons and then be a reliable  coach and cheerleader. 


And there is an added benefit. By practicing with your child you open up the dialogue on bullying, and what is happening in your child’s life. Being bullied is embarrassing.   And believe it or not parents, if your child finds something embarrassing you may be the last person he/she tells! Unless of course you already have laid a strong foundation for discussion

Beyond prevention there are strategies if you find your child is being bullied. Here are some do’s and don’ts


My child is being bullied, what do I do?


·         Be empathetic. Listen and support them.

·         Get information on what happened. Not just what the bully (s) did, but what did they do in response? 

·         Ask your child what action they would like you to take?

            (offer options)

·         Insist they learn and that you teach them the skills/techniques outlined below. Role play with them and practice with them, both similar scenarios and the actual scenario they are encountering

·         Encourage them to try these skills out on the bully (s)

·         Think clearly on what has happened, the degree and frequency of the bullying. Is violence or potential violence involved? Do you need immediate action? Can your child deal with it with assistance?

·         Contact the school, recreation center, etc. (Once you are calm and know what action you would like them to take)


·         Ask questions about the school/recreation Center’s protocol for bullying..  Is some action needed? If so, what? Or are you just advising them of the incident, and/or ongoing problem etc and want no action at this time.





·         Advise ignoring the problem

·         Advise being aggressive (verbally or physically) with the bully (s)

·         Rush to do “ something” about it yourself. Calm yourself, and rationally detach yourself from the incident. Your job is to assess and strategize. Then give well-reasoned advice, and take action if necessary.   

Example: Do not rush to phone, or seek out the other children and/or   parents involved.



Even with training sometimes bullying still happens. Even with swimming lessons people still drown.



What if I believe it is acute, ongoing and/or dangerous (physically or emotionally to my child?)


·         Do all the above, and:

·         Contact the school, recreation center, etc. again (know what action you would like them to take)

·         Contact me (Steve Andrews) for some support, guidance or if necessary

            re-enforced skill development: email is best: bully_back_off@yahoo.com

·         Contact: the local RCMP School Police Youth Liaisons in your community

(in most serious cases the school will involve them in the problem)

·         Contact the Youth Against Violence line 1 800 680 4264

Sometimes even with intervention the damage is done. Do not under estimate

the effects of repeated bullying, (even if nothing physical occurred). If you believe your child is struggling, get help. Simply changing their school or moving from a community will not necessarily work. If your child can’t “swim”, it doesn’t matter which swimming pool they are in.   


What if during or after the fact they are experiencing emotional problems?


·         Encourage them to talk to you.

·         Encourage them to talk to their school counselor.

·         Kids help lines are excellent resources: 604 310 1234 or 1-800 668 6868

·         Parent Help Line: 1 888 603 9100  

·         Chilliwack Community Services including suicide prevention:

·         604 792 4267 or 604 792 6632

·         Restorative Justice 604 393 3023 (conflict resolution between youth/families)

·         Ann Davis Society: 604 792 2760 (child and youth counseling)

·         Child and Youth Mental Health 604 795 8481


(Most of the above phone #s are specific to Chilliwack-  check out the REDBOOK Online or 211 or Community info on this website for services in your community 


So there you have it. No, it is not perfect. It is however what children have told us, year after year, speaks to them, and what they believe works. Teach your children what to say and do if bullied, with the same care and intensity you would teach them to “swim”. With lessons and practice there is a strong chance that should they “fall in the river” they will swim safely to shore.    



If you need assistance feel free to contact me at bully_back_off@yahoo.com.