Bullying was the topic of last night’s SOCSD Family Engagement Center Parent Workshop, but much of the discussion centered on active parent engagement from elementary through high school. Maintaining a strong parent-child relationship is essential, even as children grow older and more independent.
“It’s so important to know who your child is–what they’re doing in their free time, what’s on their phone, what games they play online, who their friends are–and who their friends aren’t,” said South Orangetown Middle School Prevention Counselor Bobbie-Angela Wong, who recommended setting ground rules for supervised cellphone use and device-free bedrooms at night.
Ponnu Varghese-John, School Prevention Counselor at Tappan Zee High School, agreed. “Bullying often happens where adult supervision is lacking and kids don’t know how to navigate these situations on their own.”
Wong and Varghese-John described types of bullying behavior, signs that a child may be getting bullied and tips for teaching children to speak up when they see others being victimized. Parents are urged to initiate these conversations with their child, whether or not they suspect that their child is a victim of bullying, to help them develop the positive behaviors and leadership skills associated with Upstanders.
The counselors also encouraged students and families to reach out to teachers, school counselors and administrators. “We have a team of people in every building,” said Wong. “But we need to know what’s happening to help. Kids who report bullying aren’t tattle-tales, they’re Upstanders.”