Donna Perugini Children's Author

Can Responsive Parenting Prevent Bullying?



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Welcome to my guest poster, Becky from Happy Christian Home.  She’s helping me by Guest Posting while I recover from my car being rear ended with neck, shoulder and back trauma. 

Some Signs of Bullying

Recently, I was saddened by a couple of articles about children who were bullied. One article was about a special needs teenager who was harassed by her teachers. This had been taking place over the course of three years.  She had been in the class with the same teachers throughout middle school. According to the report, she had shown signs of abuse, like not wanting to go to school- which can be normal behavior for a teen, but she would go so far as to injure herself to avoid school. The father in this story had contacted the school board repeatedly, each time being told that his daughter had to be lying, and reassuring him their goal was to give his daughter the best possible education.

Wired with a Recording Device That Proved Bullying

Finally, the girl’s father wired her with a hidden recording device, and caught four day’s worth of abuse on audio tape. He was able to get proof of what his daughter had been alleging, leading to consequences for the teachers.

Bullied on Facebook

In the other story, a ten year old girl tragically committed suicide as a result of being bullied. There weren’t many warning signs discussed in the article, but it seems that her mother had no idea until various Facebook friends came forward to say that she had been badly bullied.

In many cases, it may be difficult for children to come forward to their parents about being bullied at school or elsewhere. They might be ashamed or feel afraid something bad will happen if they tell.

Should I Take Swift Action for Bullying?

 My goal in writing this is not to stand in a place of judgment of any parent with a child who has been bullied, but I wonder if some of these situations can be prevented. I wonder what leads to parents not recognizing signs of abuse, and then not taking swift and immediate action when abuse has been reported.

What Cues Do You Give Your Child?

I think about babies who are “trained to sleep” by “crying it out” night after night. This, I believe is just one thing that leads children naturally to not trust their care providers. Parents are afraid of “spoiling” their child, and so oftentimes will delay their response to their child’s need. I’ve literally witnessed parents explaining to their wailing infant that “you still have another 30 minutes until you can eat”. This sort of repeated behavior of course leads parents to not place much value on their child’s cues.

What Does This Have to do With Bullying in Children?

Well, for one thing, a child that doesn’t trust that their parent will meet their needs is ultimately taught to keep quiet when they’re in need. A parent that is accustomed to brushing off their child’s communication is not likely to recognize the sometimes very subtle cues that abuse is taking place. There is a disconnect between parent and child.

Help Your Child Speak Out About Bullying

I believe that taking steps to being a more responsive parent (or teacher or children’s ministry worker- whatever the case may be) can greatly reduce instances of bullying. A greater connection to parents and caregivers can reduce the likelihood that a child will bully another child, and also increase the chances that a child will speak out against the abusive situation. If your child (or a child in your care) knows that you will take immediate action and not tolerate abuse on any level, they will be more likely to alert you to any potentially problematic situations.

 What are some things that you think can lead to a reduction in bullying?

Becky is a wife of 5 years, and a stay at home mom. She is passionate about all things having to do with families and hopes to provide Biblical encouragement to women in their roles of wives and mothers through her blog Happy Christian Home.


8 Responses to “Can Responsive Parenting Prevent Bullying?”

  1. 1
    Vernon says:

    Here in the Philippines, Responsive Parenting is very popular and this methods is very effective to make your child more conscious in the surroundings. Not to brutal in applying it because if its too brutal the kids will always remember the bad memories that you’ve done to him/her.

  2. 2

    Hi Donna, I hope you get well soon!

    Becky, thanks for writing about this. I agree with your points. If we don’t let our kids know daily that we are open and wanting to communicate with them, they won’t!

    We have always told our girls they have a free pass to tell us anything they need to without punishment. They have used it!

    I too don’t want to judge anothers parenting style, but I think if more parents enforced the age requirements set on Facebook etc. it would help!
    Why was a 10 year old allowed to be on Facebook? It’s just not safe!
    Linda Kinsman recently posted..Declaring Email Bankruptcy!My Profile

  3. 3
    Becky says:

    Linda, I absolutely agree with you about Facebook! The age requirement is 13, but I think in most cases, that’s still too young. I have friends on there that are 13 and up, and it shocks me some of the things that are posted, or the pictures they are tagged in and what-have-you.

    You have a great communication policy in place for your girls!

  4. 4
    Cherry says:

    The best obvious way to stop bullying in schools is for parents to change the way they parent their children at home. Bullies usually also come from homes where the parents fight a lot, so violence has been modeled for them. Early intervention and effective discipline and boundaries truly is the best way to stop bullying.

  5. 5
    KATHLEEN says:

    I think as the population increases and people get more packed together and become more competitive this problem will continue to increase. It seems I’m a bully myself and God knows I’ve been working on improving this personality defect for many years. I think once you learn that strong-arming people at a young age is a way to get what you want out of life its a hard habit to break if you are not motivated for change.


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