I recently read an article about a 7-year old boy in Detroit who committed suicide because of the joint effect of his parents' separation and being bullied. It is a tragically sad story, but it brings forward an important issue: bullying causes deep emotional scarring on children and it affects their behavior and their outlook in life.
With an incident like the one mentioned above, it has become clear that bullying is no longer something that kids had to "tough out" because it happens to a lot of people that it's almost considered "normal". While a parent cannot single-handedly stop bullying, the least that he/she can do is to offer support to the bullied kid and help him/her gain better understanding why bullies are the way they are and how the child can overcome such situation.
Here are a few things that parents of bullied kids could practice when dealing with them:
Let the child open up by letting him/her know that you are there for him/her. Bullied kids tend to clam up because they think that it is an embarrassment to confess what they are going through. It is the parents' job to look for signs of bullying, should the kid refuses to open up. However, if the kid starts to talk about it, he/she should be reminded that he/she is doing a brave thing just by letting you know of the situation and that he/she will have your support.
Assure the child that there is nothing wrong with him/her. Most often than not, the children who’ve become victims of bullying have low self-esteem, and they tend to think that there is something wrong with how they are. Therefore, it is important that parents stress to their kids that no one is perfect, but being different is not something that they should be ashamed of.
Teach him/her how to act around bullies. They need to learn how to stand up for themselves without causing harm to the offending kid. This could be made possible by making them understand how bullying occurs and how it could be prevented.
It is also an option to let a guidance counselor know what the situation is, so a talk between the parents of the bully and the bullied kid can be arranged. After all, it needs the effort of both parties to stop the bullying.
Keep in mind that in the end, bullied or not, it is always the parents' responsibilities to help the child cope with problems and deal with different life situations. Thus, it's essential that the parents be aware of what is happening with their children's lives so that they can be guided properly.