Bullying is something that people can fall victim to, no matter what their age. It happens in schools and in adult life, too. Why do people feel they have the right to make others feel bad and unhappy? Does this make them feel good? A staggering amount of children are bullied, so it is important to know the signs and know how to deal with bullying.
It is important as a parent to instil good habits, behavior and respect in children from a young age. Parents should be a role model to their children, as how you act and react in situations teaches your children what is acceptable. If you show anger and other negative behavior, then your children will believe that this is acceptable.
What is bullying?
Bullying can be emotional or physical, deliberate hurtful behavior that continues. Bullying can include:
- Name calling
- Abusive comments
- Damaging or taking the property of another
- Rumor spreading
- Being hit or physically hurt
- Excluding others
How to recognize the signs
Is your child being bullied? Noticing the signs early on is a key factor in reducing the damage. Here are a few examples of signs of bullying to look out for:
- Lack of interest in school, not wanting to go to school
- Not wanting to talk about school
- Lower self-esteem
- School equipment or dinner money has been ‘lost’
- Change in usual behavior
- Diet may change (increase or decrease in appetite)
- Doing less well in school
- Being quiet and withdrawn
- Unexplained bruises
Bullying is bullying no matter how big or small. These are just some of the signs; if you notice a difference in your child’s behavior, eating or sleeping habits, then maybe there is a problem and they are unhappy. Intervene if you think your child is being bullied, don’t leave it. Enlist help from others, and try to encourage your child to talk to you.
What to do if your child is being bullied
All schools have an anti-bullying policy, so find out what it is. It is the school’s responsibility to take action against bullying. Your child should feel safe at school. Make sure that your child knows what bullying is, and that it isn’t acceptable. Also make sure your child knows that he or she can tell you any worries they have, no matter how trivial they may seem. Always be there for your child.
If you think your child is a victim to bullying try to talk to your child without grilling them on the subject. Listen to your child, and take him or her seriously. Children feel embarrassed and can become withdrawn, they blame themselves and hide the problem, they are often afraid to admit to being bullied and avoid telling their parents as they think it will make the situation worse.
If you suspect that your child is being bullied, or your child confides in you, remember to stay calm and act rational. When your child is ready, discuss and agree about the action that is going to be taken against the bullying with your child. Make sure you explain that it is not their fault, and that it will be stopped. Do take your child seriously, as even the smallest amount of bullying is very upsetting. Always listen to your child, and pay attention to what is being said. Some children find it hard to talk about their problems and may feel embarrassed. Don’t put any pressure on your child, or make him or her feel uneasy, as your child won’t feel comfortable to tell you anything.
Ask your child how his or her day was, and what they did. If he or she is abrasive and doesn’t have much to say, and doesn’t seem to want to tell you about their day, it is most likely because they have nothing positive to say. Ask your child who they have made friends with, and what they did at lunchtime. Who did they play with? And are they looking forward to going to school tomorrow. If they can’t talk to you, find someone they trust that they can talk to. There are help lines and organizations available also.
Make an appointment to speak to your child’s teacher/principal. You can discuss the issues with the teachers, and formulate a course of action. Your child’s teacher will inform other teachers what is happening so they can monitor your child in school, so they should be able to catch any bullying.
Stay in contact with the teacher and keep them updated on anything that is happening. If your child is still being bullied and the teachers fail to help, go to the governors. Get your child to keep a diary of everything that happens. Make your child feel loved and boost his or her self-esteem to help your child to regain their confidence.
What can you do if you are the victim of bullying?
Recognize that you are being bullied, and realize that this is not acceptable. You should not be treated in this way. Get help as soon as possible. Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t ignore bullying; it won’t go away, it needs to be stopped. Find someone that you trust, that you can confide in, share your problems and get support. Bullying is nothing to feel ashamed of. No one deserves to make you feel this way.
If you are being bullied, stand up to the person that is bullying you. Tell the bully how they make you feel. A bully is a coward who hurts other people to feel powerful. Never hit back, as this will not help or solve the problem, it will only make it worse. Say ‘No’ to them. Don’t let them intimidate you. Always walk away from them, never retaliate.
If you find it hard to talk about it, make a diary or write a letter and give it to someone to read. Parents and teachers are there to help, so get the support you need. Don’t try to resolve the problem alone. Try to avoid the bullies at school, but don’t let them know that you fear them. Remember bullies are cowards, they want to feel powerful, yet they are the weak ones.
Bullying can damage a person’s confidence and affect them for the rest of their life. Take action against bullying, don’t let them win. Get help! There are lots of organizations that are free to call and that can help support you and your child.