What kind of help can I get for my teen that’s being bullied?
As much as you and I want to be super parents to our teens, there are some problems that we can’t solve entirely on our own. If your teenager is being bullied, the best thing that you can do is to rally a team of support around your child.
Bullied youths need to be able to talk to wise advisors, and they need to know that people in positions of authority are doing their best to put a stop to the bullying behavior. Here’s where to get help for your teen that’s being bullied.
Sometimes a bullied teen just needs to talk. Sharing details with a parent or teacher can be difficult, but when given the opportunity to speak anonymously over the phone or computer, the student might suddenly open up.
The Stomp Out Bullying HelpChat Line is an online service open to bullied teens and young adults. Students ages 13 through 24 are invited to dialogue with trained counselors through the chat interface.
Some students will benefit from calling the GLBT National Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-7743. This service helps students with issues related to sexual orientation and identity.
Suicide, sometimes related to bullying, is one of leading causes of death for young people. Although as a parent you don’t want to consider your child having suicidal thoughts, it’s important to equip him or her with resources to turn to in such a situation.
Youth who are in emotional crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or use their online chat service. This organization routes your teen’s call to a crisis center in your local area.
To learn more, watch the video “Rhett Miller’s Reason to Call the Lifeline.”
If your teen is being bullied at school, you should seek help from the school staff. Many schools have anti-bullying programs in place and will readily work with you to create a safety plan.
School officials can serve as the intermediary between the family of the student who is being bullied and the family of the bully. They can also enforce consequences for the bully, such as making restitution for broken property or writing a letter to the victim.
Your student’s school might have policies in place for how to report bullying and get help. If yours does not or if the first person to whom you reach out does not respond satisfactorily, consider contacting any of the following school staff:
- The principal.
- A guidance counselor or social worker.
If you are unable to achieve a resolution after talking to school staff members, take the issue to the district superintendent. Options to pursue after that include your local school board and your state Department of Education.
Despite your best efforts to get help for your teen that’s being bullied, you may feel that the school is not listening. Although many schools today are well-equipped to deal with bullying, some have not yet learned how to properly handle the problem.
If the school is not taking your requests for help seriously, you may need to present an official-looking document that will help get their attention.
Stomp Out Bullying offers a free Notice of Harassment template. In addition to information for parents, this packet includes:
- Event Log–Use this to record bullying incidents.
- Discussion Log–Use this to record information about conversations about the problem that are held with teachers, parents, school officials or others.
- Notice of Harassment–If the bullying does not stop, compile this document, sign it in the presence of a notary and deliver it to those in a position of authority over the bully.
Although a Notice of Harassment is not guaranteed to solve the problem, it can serve as a wake-up call to others about the severity of the problem and your determination to obtain a resolution.
Mental Health Services
Your teen needs to you to provide a nonjudgmental listening ear as he or she talks about bullying and its effects. Sometimes, however, talking to Mom or Dad is not enough for a student who is in a bullying crisis.
Being bullied can be destructive to your teen’s self-esteem. As confidence is worn away, he or she may become depressed or anxious.
Bullied students may exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. In some cases, students may consider or attempt suicide.
These emotional consequences can last past the teen years. Many victims carry these struggles into adulthood.
Proactive parents seek emotional and mental health support for their bullied teens. A licensed counselor can help students process their feelings about bullying and build resilience against long-term negative effects.
If notice any of the following signs, it is particularly important to seek mental health services for your teen:
- Talk of suicide or self-harm.
However, you do not have to wait for things to get to this point. Mental health services can be beneficial for any teen dealing with bullying, and as a parent, you’ll appreciate knowing that there is a trained professional on your child’s support team.
Bullying is often considered an issue for the school to take care of. However, there are some instances in which police involvement is warranted.
Laws about bullying vary by state, but in many cases, you should consider seeking help from the police if:
- A bully is physically harming your teen or is making serious threats of harm.
- The bullying persists long-term despite resolution attempts by the school. This may also apply if the school has not appropriately responded to your requests for help.
- Criminal behavior has occurred, such as damaging property or distributing pornographic material.
- Cyberbullying is involved.
Your local police department can help you understand what legal steps you can take. These might involve filing a report or pressing charges.
You can’t fill all of these roles for your bullied teenager yourself, but you can help surround your teen with a support team.
- Provide support line contact information.
- Reach out to the school.
- File a Notice of Harassment.
- Arrange for mental health services.
- Involve the police.
If you have further questions on getting help for your bullied teen, please leave a comment below.