Once upon a time, bullying was viewed as a rite of passage. Almost every kid experienced it. It was an expected part of growing up-something you took with a grain of salt. But when you factor in the Internet culture of hate and the increase of violence in schools, bullying now has far-reaching consequences that penetrate several aspects of a child’s life. For your gay child, bullying can be even more detrimental. If not addressed, the emotional trauma can have awful results like depression or even suicide. When you find out that your child is being bullied, you need to take swift action to ensure their physical and emotional safety.
Keep Communication Open
Don’t shrug off your child’s claims as silly or light. Bullying can be difficult to endure. For children who don’t feel they have someone to talk to, they sink into depression. That depression can lead them to destructive behavior against themselves or others. You have to let them know you are there to support. Be an ally for your child; not an adversary.
Partner with The School
Your child has the right to attend school and feel safe. If they’re being bullied, the administration needs to take action. Work with school officials to ensure the bully is held accountable and disciplined appropriately. But also work to make sure the school has protections in place so the behavior doesn’t continue.
Look into GSAs
Gay-straight alliances are great, school-sponsored organizations that encourage outreach and support for LGBT students. Find out if your child’s school has one. If not, look into what it would take to start one. Having organizations like GSAs on campus can help create an environment of acceptance and tolerance that reduces bullying. It also creates a safe space for your child at school to be themselves.
Teach Your Child About Conflict
Empowerment is a great tool for your child. Teach them how to diffuse conflict before it gets tough. Instilling confidence in your child will help them avoid bullies. Knowing that they’re loved and accepted is a great way to fend them off. But if bullying continues, teach them how to respectfully bow out of conflict. Walking away, going to teachers for help, ignoring the bully, always sticking with a group-there are a multitude of things your child can do to stop bullying before it gets serious.
It’s Not Their Fault
Many people have developed thick skin and expect bullying to be a part of their lives in some shape or form. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Make sure your child knows that bullying is not their fault and they do not deserve this. They have every right to learn in a safe environment. Make sure they know this. Make sure that they don’t miss out on their education because of a bully. The more you instill confidence in them, the better their experience will be.
Bullying is a nasty and unfortunate thing for any child to experience. Make sure that you help your gay child overcome the odds and put a stop to its negative effects. If you need an ally who is highly trained and experienced in helping families through this, please call me to set up an appointment.