Bullying in High School

What could possibly be harder than surviving adolescence? Re-living it as a parent. Hormonal changes; heartbreaks; anxiety about school, the future, friends, sex; exposure to drugs and alcohol: high school is a pressure cooker from which few teens emerge completely unscathed.  Which is exactly why parents must be on the alert for signs that their teen may be struggling with bullying. Aggression and abuse can become more covert in high school as teens learn more sophisticated ways of interacting. At this vulnerable stage of a child’s development, social, verbal, and electronic bullying can be more abusive than any kind of physical bullying. 

How Do I Know If Bullying Is A Problem?

“My daughter was always a good student. Now her grades have dropped, she seems to dread going to school and rarely has friends over.”

“My son has stated hanging out with friends who are aggressive and cocky. Yesterday I found $60 in his wallet and he won’t tell me how he got it.”

Are you worried your teen is being bullied at school, or could be hurting others? Here are the signs you should be watching out for.

How You Can Help If Your Teen Is Being Bullied

Start the conversation

Teens are not likely to confide in parents about something as hurtful and embarrassing as bullying, unless they know they will have a receptive audience. Talk often and openly with your teen. Share any bullying experiences you may have had growing up. Watch the movies and TV shows your teen likes as a way to move into a conversation about stereotypes, sex, peer pressure, appropriate behaviour and what constitutes healthy relationships.

Encourage new friendships

Positive friendships in different settings can often minimize the effects of bullying. Encourage your teen to enrol in sports, lessons, camps or other activities away from school so she can experience different friendships. Make your home “teen friendly”, if your teen and his friends feel comfortable hanging out at home, you will be able to assess whether the friendships are healthy and positive.

Build confidence

Teens who are being bullied often have low self-esteem. Build their confidence by enrolling them in sports and other activities in which they show an interest or talent. Practice social skills with them, such as looking people in the eye, standing up straight and talking assertively.

Stand up for your teen

Adult intervention stops bullying. It is a parent’s job to protect their child, whether they are in pre-school or high school. Treat bullying incidents seriously – talk with your teen’s teachers, other adults in his/her life and other parents; it is important that adults work together to teach youth positive relationship skills and end the violence caused by bullying.

Read more about questions you can ask when talking to teachers and school administration about bullying.

How You Can Help If Your Teen Is Bullying Others

Establish – and enforce – consequences

Adolescents who bully need to be aware of the severe and long-lasting effects of their behaviour, and that actions have consequences.  If your child is bullying others, refer to our list of consequences that aim to reform behaviour and teach empathy. Violent and aggressive behaviour needs to be addressed before it becomes an entrenched pattern that follows teens into adulthood.

Examine your teen’s behaviour – and your own.

In order to understand how to intervene and whether you need outside support or counselling, ask yourself the following questions: How does my teen deal with conflict, anger or frustration? Does my teen have attitudes that support the use of aggression? Are his/her friendships positive? We must not forget that parents are supposed to be role models for their children; examine your own behaviour to see if it is influencing how your teen behaves. Do you routinely yell, act aggressively or use your power to intimidate others?

i H8 U

“My daughter is spending hours on her computer and seems distressed and distracted. Yesterday I found her cellphone in the trashcan. What is going on?”

Cyberbullying is an increasingly common form of abuse and a serious issue for today’s teens. Kids can be harassed 24 hours a day and will never feel safe from those who are tormenting them. Cyberbullying can quickly escalate and involve hundreds of other kids who may either join in or witness the bullying. In some cases, kids who have been cyberbullied have committed suicide. Parents need to be aware of all the facts about cyberbullying, the legal consequences and what they can do to help.

Cyberbullying – what you need to know