Bullied at School

by Ann Douglas

girl bullied at schoolA woman asked me, "My daughter is being bullied by some other girls at recess. They will invite her to play with them, but when she goes to join them, they laugh and run away. I had no idea that this kind of "mean girl" behavior started at such an early age. What can I do to help?"

Here is what she and you, can do!

Encourage your daughter to talk about the bullying. Help her to understand what bullying is all about (it's an attempt to exert power over another person) and why it's wrong (no one deserves to be treated that way).

Get in touch with your child's school to let the teacher know what's going on and to find out how the school handles these types of incidents and whether the school offers any anti-bullying programs. Researchers in the United Kingdom found that girls who have been bullied benefit from participating in school-based bullying intervention. They can help her to escape from the role of victim, both in her own eyes and in the eyes of her peers. The researchers -- from Warwick University and the University of Hertfordshire -- found that girls who experienced bullying at the age of six were two-and-a-half more likely to still be being bullied at age eleven, as compared to their male counterparts.

And, just for the record, while girls may get tagged with the mean girl label, boys also engage in such "mean girl" tactics as gossip, spreading rumors, and intentionally excluding others.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Kansas analyzed 148 separate studies on bullying involving 74,000 children and concluded that children of both sexes engage in relational aggression (although boys are more likely to prefer physical aggression).

My six-year-old was bullied at his old school. We moved during the summer, however, so he'll be starting at a new school. What can I do to help him get off to the best possible start there?

It's never a picnic to be "the new kid." And if you were bullied at your previous school, you can't help but worry if history is going to repeat itself at your new school, too. Here are a few tips on what you can do to ease the transition for your son.

See if you can arrange for him to visit his new school ahead of time. While you're there, give your child's teacher or principal a quick heads up about his recent bullying experiences and ask how the new school handles bullying. You want your son to hear that his new school is serious about putting a stop to bullying.

Once school starts, look for opportunities to play an active role in your child's school. That means volunteering to accompany your child's class on field trips, to help with fundraisers, and whatever else your schedule can handle. The more involved you are, the better you'll be able to judge how happy your son is and how well he's settling into his new routine.

Of course, there's an added perk to being this involved: The teachers at the school will have a greater opportunity to stop you in the hall to chat about your son's latest triumphs on the friendship front (music to your ears)!

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.