Summer fun is over. Time for bullies to return to your child's school and make your LGBT child's life a living hell. And don't expect the school to resolve this ubiquitous problem alone.
Psychiatrist Jonathan Tobkes points out that even if parents don't have the shared experience of being gay and in this "out group," it doesn't mean that you can not develop a radar for discovering whether this is going on and help your child to combat bullying.
To do this, know the difference between teasing and bullying. The definition of tease is "to make fun of somebody, either playfully or maliciously, deliberately among somebody or irritate a person or an animal to persuade somebody by coaxing." For example, in third grade, I was skinny, had dark hair, and a mole on my nose. Some classmates called me "Wesley the Witch." That was teasing.
Bullying is "intimidation of a weaker person, the process of intimidating or mistreating somebody weaker or in more vulnerable situation." In fourth grade, Andy Foote ran after me in the classroom with a pencil in his hand. He later stabbed me with that pencil in my arm. That was bullying.
Some of the side effects of bullying to look out for include:
Now that your radar is working, it's time to help your child devise a plan to feel safe. Ask the child about what's going on in school. Assure him that being a bullying victim is not his fault. Some children are scared if they speak up against the bully that it will only ignite the flames. Says Tobkes, "many children will feel humiliated and ashamed and think they have brought it on themselves." Whatever you do, do not blame the child for being bullied." Tell your child to come to you right away if anyone is making disparaging remarks or threats," he advises.
How do you get the child to open up?
How do you gain school cooperation?
It takes time to stop bullying. Be persistent.
"Parents are the most effect deterrent to bullying," Tobkes stresses. "I have found that the most important prognostic indicator for a child being targeted for his sexuality is having a safe haven retreat at home."