Tips for parents to help address and prevent bullying
Standing United Against Bullying
- On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia launched a large-scale military invasion of Ukraine, one of its neighbors to the southwest, marking a major escalation to a conflict that began in 2014.
- At present, students from Ukrainian- and Russian-speaking communities in Wake and surrounding counties might be at higher risk of being bullied.
Prevent, Report and Respond to Bullying
- No children should be bullied because of their language or national origin. We appreciate the efforts by teachers, administrators and school staff to prevent, report and respond to bullying incidents.
- Please remind your students and their families of the mental health resources available at your school and in your community.
- Conversations about the Russian invasion of Ukraine are unavoidable. They can provide an opportunity to show support and empathy for the children and their families.
- Acknowledge the pain, fear and anger of the Ukrainian people as well as those who are directly affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- Promote healthy discussion and confront inappropriate language in the classroom. This is a great resource for calling out hate speech while fostering thoughtful dialogue.
- Share resources on how to support Ukraine: NPR lists ways how you can help.
- In the Triangle, we have students, teachers and staff from all over the world, including Ukraine and Russia who are directly affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Many in the area also have family roots in these regions and have loved ones living there.
- The majority of the Russian-speaking community in the Triangle area have shown and continue to show extraordinary support for the people of Ukraine - reaching out to individual families, organizing fundraising efforts, donating to humanitarian organizations, and showing solidarity with Ukrainians both online and off.
- Children with ties to Russia, and their parents, do not represent the actions of the Russian government.
- Remember that the majority of the Russian-speaking community immigrated to the U.S. for a reason. For many it was to escape the same authoritarian regime and to provide safety for their children.
- It is important to understand that ANY Russian citizen, whether currently in Russia or abroad, faces significant risks by supporting Ukraine. Those in Russia face detentions, beatings, jail sentences. Those abroad, including in the U.S., can be denied the opportunity to travel to Russia in the future, even to see their families.
As a community, we must continue to offer compassion and support. Our hearts are heavy as we continue to watch the events unfold, and we remain hopeful for the return of peace.
Sample Letter you Can Send to Your School Community
I am writing to you today in light of the troubling events over the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The images can be disturbing to both adults and children. If you have older children, social media, tweets, posts, and breaking news alerts probably informed your child of the events long before you as a parent had a chance to digest the news yourself or discuss it thoughtfully with your child. In many cases, children aren’t at an age where they can make sense of these current events and are being thrust into conversations that can seem scary and overwhelming. Elementary school-aged children and some middle schoolers have trouble fully understanding news events and their contexts. Even though older teens are better able to understand current events, even they face challenges understanding.
No matter how old your children are, threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally. Many can feel worried, frightened, angry, or even guilty. These anxious feelings can last long after the news event is over. When addressing news and current events for all ages, stay mindful of your own reactions. Children are incredibly observant when it comes to emotions and tone of voice and will look to the way you handle the news to determine their own approach. If you stay calm and rational, they will too.
I want to share some resources for you as a parent to help your children deal with all this information.
Children under 7:
Children under the age of 7 need to know that they are in a safe space and those around them will be there for them to keep them safe. They don’t need to see or hear about something that will only scare them, especially because they can easily confuse facts with fantasies or fears.
Keep television and radio news away. Should they hear about events happening, stress that your family is safe. If the news event happened far away, you can use the distance to reassure kids the events are not in their immediate environment. Though it's important to listen to their fears, reassure them by explaining all the protective measures that exist to keep them safe and focus on who the helpers are around them.
Elementary aged children (8-12)
Carefully consider your child's maturity and emotional needs. Many children can handle a discussion about current events in a way that is appropriate, but some children are more sensitive and become anxious when they feel these events can make dangers appear greater and closer to home. Be available for questions and conversation. At this age, many children will see the morality of events in stark black-and-white terms and are in the process of developing their moral beliefs. This is a good time to ask them what they know, since they'll probably have gotten their information from friends, and inform them of misinformation and provide them with the facts. Oversee your child’s use of the internet and television. Some of the pictures and videos are not appropriate for them to view.
Tips for Teens
Check in with your teen. In many instances, teens will have absorbed the news independently, talking with them can offer great insights into their developing politics and their senses of justice and morality. It is important for you to get a sense of what they already know or have learned about the situation. Listening to your teen, will give you the opportunity to provide your insights into the mix, without dismissing or minimizing their feelings. Many teens will feel passionately about events and may even personalize them if someone they know has been directly affected.
No matter what the ages of your children, I encourage you to find a time to connect with your family and share with one another your wishes, hopes, and dreams as well as your concerns. Think about ways that you as a family can make your community better.