WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Following a mother's lawsuit against Iowa Park CISD claiming the district ignored multiple reports about the harassment of her son, a Wichita Falls counselor gives parents advice on how to talk to their kids about bullying.
James McGinn, a counselor at Tools For Success Counseling and Life Coaching, said bullying is one of the biggest issues he sees when it comes to his younger clients.
McGinn said it is a difficult situation for a child who is being bullied, and parents need to get involved to make sure that child has an adequate voice, and it needs to be a two-way street.
He said bullying is a hard topic to tackle because it is someone else's behavior you are trying to control.
"But what is in the child's control is the way they feel about themselves, and their ability to communicate and express themselves," said McGinn.
He said opening the door for conversations like this starts with something as simple as asking your child how their day was.
"Usually when you say hey what did you do at school the answer is nothing or something of that nature, but I would tend to ask something specific like what you had for lunch at school today or something to spur their memories," said McGinn.
He said parents must break the cycle of their kids not opening up to them, and adds signs your child is being bullied are not just physical.
"Anytime they have a change of behavior, isolation, not wanting to go to school, additional sickness or those types of things, might indicate there's a problem," said McGinn.
He said although kids are becoming more vocal about the issue, and with social media adding more outlets for the harassment it is a bigger problem than some think.
McGinn said many times kids feel they are not able to overcome a shameful event of being bullied rather it being an online attack or at school.
"They get a quick sense of hopelessness," said McGinn. "That's where parents can help them stay hopeful and show them the positive things, and that there's a future past this one event," he said. While it may sound simple, it is reminding your child of all the things they are good at, and how much they mean to you and others.
McGinn said it all boils down to a self-esteem issue, rather your child is the one being bullied or the one bullying others.
He said scars from bullying can last a lifetime because it can give children a false idea about who they are.
A couple of Texoma mothers offered how they handle the sensitive situation and what they tell their children.
"I tell them that they have to make sure they are not disrespectful or treating any children in a way that they wouldn't want to be treated, as well as not to let what other kids tell them affect them," said Jessica Gutierrez.
Guiterrez said her daughter gets bullied quite frequently so she tries to make sure she has high self-esteem.
Abbey Richardson said she tells her children if they come across a bully at school or anything of that nature, to report it to their teachers first thing, and then let her know about it.
McGinn said if parents are struggling to tackle these issues to talk with your child's school counselor or a professional.