Studies show that more than one in six children are bullied in and out of school every single week. This is globally, not just in America. Whilst third world countries are not involved in these studies, the increase in bullying is a true eye-opener.Bullying is detrimental to a child’s self-esteem, personal development and so much more. Bullying is a form of aggressive behaviour manifested by the use of verbal put downs, physical force or coercion. Bullying is aaalso deemed an imbalance of power which one directs at particular victims.
Bullies delight in having power over others as it makes them feel strong emotionally. The victim of a bully or bullies, if often deemed the ‘target’. To many bullies ‘social power’, is an asset. It makes them feel in control although in reality they are out of control in every sense of the word. There are three basic types of bullying tactics used and these are; emotional, physical or verbal abuse.
Whilst one-on-one bullying is very common, bullying in groups is on the increase. The more complex of bullying involves a bully having followers. These followers are often defined as ‘lieutenants’ who have no qualms whatsoever, assisting the bullying with his/her evil activities. This is often called ‘peer bullying’ and can lead to depression, low self –esteem, physical harm and on occasion, suicide. Fortunately, there are steps children can take to help prevent bullying. Below are some tips on how children can discourage bullying.
Encourage children to stay away from others who appear to dislike them:
There is no use waving a red flag in front of those who display dislike for you. Therefore, encourage your children to be anywhere else than in close proximity to the bullies. The old adage “Out of sight, out of mind” makes a load of sense.
Play within sight of adults while at school or elsewhere:
Bullies are less likely to attack if they think they have witnesses who do not condone their bullying. Therefore, tell your children not to play where they cannot be seen by responsible adults. Playing where adults are nowhere in sight, can place a child in great harm if bullies are physically brutal as well as verbally. At school play in sight of the teacher on playground duty and the chance of being bullied is greatly lowered.
There is safety in numbers:
Children on their own are prime targets for bullies so ensure your children travel to school with older siblings or with a group of older children if possible. If traveling by public transport tell your children to sit up at the front of the bus if possible. If traveling by train choose the more crowded carriages. Sit right next to the bus driver if possible.
If he/she tells your child to move to the back of the bus your child should simply say “I feel much safer up here with you!” A responsible adult will cotton on to the fact the child is in fear of being bullied. Children walking to school need to walk in the open and not take shortcuts which may put them at risk of a physical attack by bullies.
Ask your child’s school what bullying policies they have.
If your child’s school has no bullying policies it’s time to talk the education department or your local ombudsman, bullying is a crime. Staff school be trained and supported in every aspects of enforcing these policies. If not, your children are obviously attending the wrong school.
Talk to your child about not allowing themselves to look like an easy target:
Bullies nearly always look for an easy target, someone who looks lost perchance or vulnerable. Try boosting your child’s confidence in any manner possible. A confident child looks more like a child that will fight back and bullies don’t want this. They want a victim who will cower, cry and panic. When a child is assertive and confident, bullies usually look for a more vulnerable target.
Bullies want a victim who is not self-assured. So parents need to coach their children in what to say and how to say it if a bully approaches them. Tell the child to act confident even if they’re trembling inside. Body language says so much so tell your child to stand tall, look their bully in the eye and speak firmly if they must respond to the bully, bullies at all.
A firm “I will not allow you to bully me!” would be the best option. If the child looks scared, the bullying will definitely continue. If name-calling or verbal harassment is in play, your child should simply walk over to where a crowd of children are. If it continues, they should make their way to the nearest teacher and make a formal complaint.
Discuss the fact that bullying is reinforced when quietly accepted:
Encourage your child to stand up for themselves. Whilst doing so, talk about ways to react if approached by a bully. Try to encourage children to watch out for each other. Teachers should discuss this and encourage the children to say something such as “Why do you bully him/her?” If the child continues with something such as “It doesn’t make you look like a hero, it only makes you look like someone with major insecurities”, the bullying may stop.
This is deemed ‘bullying distraction”. It doesn’t always work yet it has been known to stop a bully in their tracks quite often. Or tell your children to try a conversation such as “Wouldn’t you prefer to play touch football instead of wasting your time doing this?” Sometimes bullies only bully because they feel insecure or lonely.
But do discuss the fact that defending another person from a bully can be a negative at times. Children should know how to assess the situation first. This means, if another child is being bullied by a number of children they should stay out of it and inform an adult immediately.
Don’t overreact if possible:
It’s normal for a victim of bullying to be frightened. But by not overacting one can help put the fire of animosity out. Victims should never fight with a bully or respond with verbal insults. They are just adding to the problem and giving the bully more reason to continue. Besides, when one reacts with insults they are only putting themselves on the same level as the bully. More aggression could follow and serious injury could occur.
Cyber bullying is very prominent these days. Tell your child not to respond to it at all. If your child is getting nasty text messages or emails and so forth, get them to block the bully. If you know the child who is the bully try talking to their parents. Bullies always feel tougher when they have something to hide behind such as a computer or a number of supporters.
If your child feels safe, get him/her to look the bully in the eye and say “You really don’t scare me!” then walk off. Tell your child NOT to run as this could incite the bully to give chase. It will help the victim to feel stronger within and reinforce the statement that the bully is not scaring them. The victim may wish to run as fast as they possibly can but this is not the best approach.
This will basically give the victim a sense of their own power and that’s a plus. A child also needs to be encouraged to tell an adult about any bullying episodes. Whilst a bullied child may fear that the bullying will escalate if they tell an adult, the bully needs to be exposed for what they are. It’s truly the better way to try to stop bullying in its tracks.
Tell your child to use another bathroom at school if possible.Tell them not to go to their locker unaccompanied and buddy up with friends when travelling to and from school. If your child offers to do the same for other, they should gain a strong support group. They must also try to hold in their anger and bite their tongue when a bully is ranting.
Counting to ten and deep breathing may help to calm the victim as well as trying to show a poker face. In other words, try not to show shock, anger or distress and nervousness. Acting uninterested helps and so does texting someone while the bully rants. Without the response the bully was hoping for, he/she may find someone else to torture.
Smiling at the bully and saying something such as “We could have been good friends!” could stop a bully in his/her tracks as well. It will at least give them something to think about. But don’t laugh at the bully as this could be the trigger to physical violence. But showing that you simply don’t care what they say it the best option.
Children should be advised to talk to someone they trust. Another thing parents should discuss with their children is material things and things of sentimental value. The child should not bring these to school when a bully is running rampant. This will help remove any reason for bullying. Talk to your child about choosing friends wisely and encourage them to join outside social groups so they can work on building up their confidence, self-esteem and inner strength.
It may be worthwhile having your child taught self-defence such as karate or judo. They may never have to use it but it will certainly have a bully thinking twice if the child wears a karate club shirt occasionally. Remember that bullies prefer weaklings and those they can stand over. Look on the internet for the nearest self-defence classes in your locality. It’s important that parents take bullying seriously. If your child has become sullen and moody, seems hesitant to go to school, or spend time outdoors, they be the victim of a bully. If your child seems moodier and not their normal self, it’s imperative that parents find out why.
Last but not least, there are a host of resources available for victims of bullying. Look in your local phone book or online. If you suspect that your own child is a bully it’s time for some serious discussions.