Adolescence is tough. Young people are naturally trying to discover who they are and how they fit in. In this pivotal stage of life, acceptance is essential. Foster kids feel like they have been rejected by their families, and adding bullying to the equation can make an already difficult situation more challenging. It’s a rough world out there, and it’s important to ensure your foster child is prepared to handle the ever-growing trend of bullying when it arises. That’s why Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) is developing a new bullying prevention course for foster parents in New Jersey.
Bullying is a form of discrimination that impacts thousands of young people in the United States. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 20% of students from grades 9-12 have experienced some form of bullying. For foster kids who have already endured abuse and neglect, this is an added stress.
Droves of children avoid going to school every day for fear of being harassed by their peers. However, the days of interacting with a bully in a classroom setting alone are a thing of the past. Technology has given bullies a platform that allows them to reach anyone anywhere almost instantly. Technological advancements, like social media, allow tormentors to take teasing to an epic level.
In Pennsylvania, when a 13-year-old girl ended her relationship with her boyfriend and started dating someone else, he began distributing sexually explicit images of her. He and his friends tormented his ex-girlfriend by degrading her online via social media and face-to-face in their school.
All of the students involved have been charged as minors for harassment, illegal use of a communication facility and transmitting obscene material. The victim, scarred by her experience, is using her voice to speak out against bullying and to encourage other victims to break their silence and ask for help.
As the voice for your foster child, it is important to know how to advocate for her if you discover she is a victim of bullying.
Foster and Adoptive Family Service’s (FAFS) Training Department is preparing a new home correspondence and online bullying prevention course for foster parents who are licensed in New Jersey called, Bullying: It’s A Real Problem. The course will address some myths about bullying. For example, it’s a myth that bullying is mostly physical. As mentioned earlier, bullying comes in a variety of ways. Some may argue that words cause more harm than what physical scars can produce.
The course will define what bullying is in detail. It will go into depth addressing the different ways people are bullied and discuss how resource parents can prevent bullying or help their foster child who is experiencing this form of harassment.
The course, which is coming soon, will stress how vital it is to always inform your foster child’s caseworker if you believe she is being bullied in any way. When available, you can access it here.
Nationwide, StopBullying.gov offers information and resources from a variety of government agencies on this important topic, including ways to prevent bullying and how to respond once it occurs.
Bullying has evolved from what was perceived as harmless teasing between kids into something that can negatively impact lives. Being aware of what it is and how to address it will better prepare you to help your foster child protect herself as she navigates through her adolescence.