Did you know that 64% of children who have been or are being bullied don’t report it? Or that nearly one in five school-aged kids report being bullied during their tenure as students. Or that such behaviors negatively affects both the bully and the kid being bullied? Chances are as a parent, you are extremely concerned about your child being bullied (or even being a bully.) As such, these statistics probably make you feel a bit powerless.

However, these stats don’t have to dishearten you. According to the Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, school-based anti-bullying programs and peer intervention can help stop kids from being bullied by 25% and 57% respectively. That sort of information feels empowering to parents. It indicates that it’s not a waste of time and effort to try and stop these abusive behaviors before they start. If you’re trying to be proactive when it comes to preventing your child from being bullied on- and offline, here are some things you should know.

You Are Not Alone

According to an article in The Guardian, parents’ greatest fear for their secondary school-aged children isn’t that they’ll get involved in drugs or drinking. Rather, parents most fear that their children will be bullied. Of the 1,000 people asked about this subject, a full 33% of parents and their kids cited being bullied as their number one concern.

Given how dangerous substances like alcohol or cigarettes are to a person’s health and how addicting these substances can be, it’s very telling that kids getting involved with drugs or alcohol wasn’t the biggest concern of the people in the poll group.

What’s Different Now?

teen bullyingNowadays, the effects of being bullied on-and offline are seen as the cause of many if not most of the health challenges that kids today will face, according to Science Daily.

Indeed, kids who experience being on the receiving end of a bully’s attention, battle issues like suicide and suicide-related behavior. They also deal with challenges like physical violence and aggression. And later on in life, they often deal with depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and increased health complaints.

However, bullies don’t end up being the ones on top. People who bully others often end up having problems with the law later in life. They also have trouble interacting with people in a healthy manner, and many become domestic batterers.

How It Plays Out

Students get bullied for myriad reasons. Sixteen percent of students get bullied because of their race, thirty-seven percent wind up being bullied due to their body shape. A full 55% of students being bullied are bullied because of how they look.

Additionally, children who have disabilities or children who identify as LGBTQ also face some significant challenges. For example, forty percent of students with autism have been on the receiving end of a bully’s attention, while just over 71% of LGBTQ students reported being called named.

Although much of this behavior takes place in person – 20.2% on school grounds – fifteen-point-five percent of high school students report being bullied online. A full 90% of teenaged students who experience being bullied online also report being bullied in person.

Interestingly enough, it isn’t just the bullies and the bullied who are affected by this issue. Bystanders face some significant challenges as well. The people in this category may be prone to missing school, show increased use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. They may also deal with mental health challenges.

What To Do

It’s ideal for parents if their child’s school has programs in place to prevent these behaviors. This makes it easier to not only get help if their child/ren are bullied, but these programs also prevent bullies from ever getting started. However, an article in The Huffington Post reminds us that not all schools have these programs. Additionally, not all parents will experience a sympathetic ear and a helping hand from their child’s teacher or school administration when this issue is reported.

Because most kinds of violence thrives in isolation and shame, a parent’s best defense is to keep talking to the powers-that-be at their child’s school. Meeting with your child’s teacher, principal, neighborhood parents, and others helps address the situation and bring it to a stop.

Final Thoughts

Protecting your child in school can present an ongoing challenge. However, taking steps to prevent your child from being bullied or from becoming the bully can have long-term benefits. Aside from improved grades and self-esteem, preventing kids from being bullied can also help them sidestep some serious mental and physical health issues down the road. If your child is about to start school, it’s in you and your child’s best interest to investigate what kinds of programs the school has to prevent such behaviors. If no program exist, it may be time to think about getting them implemented.