Teachers talk about what you can do if you believe your child is being bullied at school.
At a glance
- Bullying is any form of repeated behaviour that is intended to cause harm and involves a misuse of power.
- Watch for signs such as changes in your child's behaviour, truanting, falling grades, moodiness or avoiding walking home from school.
- Encourage your child to talk about the situation – and listen when they do.
- Don't panic or overreact.
- Encourage resilience in your child.
- Your child will need to tell the bully to stop.
- Report the bullying to the teacher, school principal or year adviser.
- Ask about your school's anti-bullying policy.
When does teasing become bullying and what can you do if it happens to your child?
Bullying is the repeated abuse of power so where a student tries to exert power over another student and tries to make that other student feel uncomfortable or feel miserable.
The biggest problem we have with bullying is that students don't say anything; it's kept secret.
But there are signs. Some signs that their child may be being bullied are: all of a sudden they don't want to walk to and from school; they start truanting; they don't want to go to school; their academic levels start falling behind; they come home with bruises or torn shirts or torn books; they demand more extra money or they're hungry when they get home; they haven't had their lunch; they all of a sudden become aggressive to the family pet and irritable at home.
If you believe your child's being picked on, or they feel that they're being picked on, it's important that you talk to your child about those issues and you establish, as a parent, if they are being picked on or if it's just a matter of them not understanding a situation socially in the correct manner.
You need to try and sit them down and get the facts.
The best thing you can do is to listen to them and not to overreact, not to become very angry. And show your child that conflicts and problems can be resolved in a non-violent, non aggressive manner.
I would say to your child, "You need to stay calm". That's the most important thing because a bully is essentially a power figure; they want you to react, so stay calm.
Ask them to stop that behaviour. If it doesn't stop, don't fight physically because essentially they're going to get into more trouble.
Let the other person know that you don't like what they're doing. So you have to use words like: "I want you to stop doing that, I don't like it".
Having the confidence to say, "No", because children are allowed to say, "No, I don't want to be involved with that" or, "No, I don't like what you have said to me".
That may not have solved the problem. The person may persist in doing that, so the boy, (in my experience in a boys' school here) has to stand up and go the next step – which is to say to the person, "If you don't stop doing this I'm going to take it further", which is to report the matter.
And it's important that they do report if that continues.
If your child is being bullied then you should contact the school immediately.
Our evidence and our research tells us that bullies don't stop bullying. They will continue to do so until something is done about them.
Now a common response that parents will get from their kids will be, "But it'll make it worse if I say anything". And in the list of possibilities, that is a possibility.
There is a chance that a situation could get worse, but it's not going to get better unless they do something about it. And that's the reality – they've got to do something about it.
Your school will have an anti-bullying policy and you can access that through the website or directly through the school.
Every school has a strategy that they put in place to deal with any incidents of bullying.
Resilience is an important aspect of dealing with bullying.
To develop resilience, basically it means you have to go through the process of confronting bullies, looking at the issue of your own behaviour and at the end of that you're more equipped to deal with that when it happens the next time.
School counsellors can help parents with that if they're not sure how to go about that.
They can teach their child about being assertive, standing up for themselves rather than being aggressive or passive.
And you can help your child do that by making sure they have a good self-esteem and they're confident about who they are and proud of who they are.
As a parent I can instil confidence into my child by giving them positive comments, giving them positive reinforcement when they've tried to tackle tasks that they haven't succeeded at. It doesn't matter if you don't succeed, it's that persistence. It's having a go again until you achieve a result that you want.
On some occasions your child might come home and say, "I don't want you to tell anyone, but this is happening to me at school".
I think as an adult you have to speak to your child and say, "We should make this go away, we have to make this stop". You have to make a decision to say something and do something.
And as schools we will do something about it. Every student has the right to be safe and happy at school.
Ask your school about their anti-bullying policy. You can also find more information on bullying and cyberbullying at schoolatoz.com.au
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