AUSTIN, Texas — Bullying is a problem at most schools and a school counselor said it's important to talk about bullying with your kids as soon as possible.
“If the child’s being bullied, there’s numerous signs. That’s why it’s so important for a parent to be 100% involved in a child’s life. Know who they hang out with. Know who they talk to on the phone. Know who they’re involved with on social media,” said Dyann Wilson, an eighth-grade school counselor in Houston, board member of the Texas School Counseling Association and Texas Counseling Association.
Wilson said having an open dialogue with your kids is the most important thing.
“Nine times out of 10 that behavior is always connected to something," said Wilson. "It could be a learned behavior from something going on at home. It could be because they are going through something at home. As long as educators are digging deep and learning and forming relationships, which is huge, it’s all about social-emotional learning. You have to form relationships with these students. Figure out where this is coming from.”
There's numerous warning signs if a child is getting bullied, like if a kid comes home with explainable injuries, they have missing valuable items, or they pretend their sick and don't want to go to school.
“Because when you’re being bullied, you don’t want to report it. Even to your parents because you’re worried about what could happen if you do report it. Is it going to get worse? Am I going to be looked at being weak?” said Wilson.
Wilson said it's also important to look for signs that your kid might be the bully.
"Just look at their behavior. How they’re acting. If you’re starting to get more phone calls from school about defiance and behavior, they’re acting out. Know who they hang out with,” said Wilson. “Don’t tell the child to suck it up or to shake it off. That’s just bad practice. We have to be proactive with bullying.”
She said advocating for the bully and the bullied can help diminish the problem at schools. If you have problems communicating with your kid, don't be afraid to ask for help.
“Sometimes a student is more comfortable telling a perfect stranger, a counselor, or an administrator what they’re going through because maybe they’re just scared to tell their parents,” said Wilson.
Wilson suggests to check out stopbullying.gov if you need more information.
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