Bullying

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideTeen Drama: Handling Mean Girls, Cyber Bullying, and Sexting

Teen Drama: Handling Mean Girls, Cyber Bullying, and Sexting

What should victims of bullying and their parents do to stop bullying?

Professionals tend to suggest that if parents think their child is being bullied, they should take it seriously and encourage them to talk about it. Remaining calm, supportive, and reassuring that they are not to blame for their victimization can go a long way to helping the victim of bullying feel comfortable enough to talk about it. The parent should try to gain details about the circumstances of his or her bullying and who is involved and teach the child how to respond to being bullied assertively, without getting upset. The child may also find it helpful to stay with other students and a teacher so the bully has less opportunity to engage in the behavior. Other ways to stop bullying at school include parents contacting the school and remaining in touch with them to seek their help in alleviating the bullying, while at the same time being mindful that school personnel are often unaware that bullying is occurring and their child may fear reprisals for having school authorities alerted. As of 2014, the District of Columbia and the majority of U.S. states had laws against bullying, and 20 specifically included cyberbullying in the description. Contrary to the inclination of many parents, mental-health professionals advise against contacting the parents of the bully.

Aside from addressing the bullying directly, victims of bullying may benefit from engaging in activities that can improve their confidence, self-esteem, and overall emotional strength, whether it be sports, music, or other extracurricular activities. Engaging in such activities can also help the child build friendships and improve their social skills. Professional help may be necessary if the victim of bullying has significant emotional symptoms that interfere with their ability to function.

What should parents do if they think their child is bullying others?

Advice for parents who think their child is bullying others includes talking to their child to share the details of the actions of which they have been accused and listening to their side of what happened, holding your child fully and fairly accountable for their actions, spending more time with him or her, monitoring their activities, and supervising them appropriately. Other tips for parents whose children are bullying others include staying in close touch with the school to monitor for any further incidents and encouraging your child to engage in positive social activities with positive role models.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/5/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Children's Health & Parenting Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors