April 28, 2008 – 9:05 pm

Bullying is frequently in the news, with the Government highlighting the need to stamp it out – but what can you do if you know or suspect that your child is being bullied? Although we often associate bullying activities with school, it is important to recognise that this can also happen on the way to and from school and in the neighbourhood.

Warning signs

Children may be afraid to say they are being bullied, fearing that things will get worse if they ‘grass’ or ‘tell tales’.

The warning signs to watch for include:

  • Being withdrawn,
  • Feigning illness
  • Not wanting to go to school or go out elsewhere
  • Being depressed and/ or anxious.

Survey results

A survey by Marchants House Therapy Centre of over one hundred victims of bullying in schools found that what they said worked best included:

  • Having a sympathetic adult to listen
  • Parents coming to the school
  • Support from friends
  • Teachers speaking to the bullies
  • Learning how to deal with the bullies
  • Not acting like a victim.

What didn’t help:

  • Having a meeting with the bully and a teacher
  • Avoiding the bullies at school
  • Crying
  • Getting upset
  • Getting angry with the bullies.

What can you do?

Encourage your child to tell you what is happening to them. Don’t dismiss it with ‘It’ll be OK, just ignore them’. You need them to feel that you are in charge, so don’t show that you are angry or upset; stay calm and show you are listening. Reassure them that the problem can be sorted out.

Whether the bullying is taking place at school or not, get in touch with the child’s teacher to discuss ways of raising their self esteem – being bullied can rapidly lower confidence. Find out if counselling is available through the school or if they have a peer-mentoring scheme. All schools have anti-bullying policies and should give you every support to remedy the situation for your child if the problem is at school.

When discussing matters with the school, be very clear about what you want to happen if the perpetrator does not change his/her behaviour towards your child. For example, you might suggest moving the bully to another class, exclusion, or whatever you feel is necessary to enable your child to attend school without fear and with confidence and security.

  1. One Response to “Bullying”

  2. Today’s European Safer Internet Day is a timely reminder of the dangers of Cyberbullying faced by increasing numbers of children, along with potential access to pornography, unsuitable sites and games. Offcom say that 35% of children aged 12-15 and 16% of 8 – 11 year olds have unsupervised access to the internet in their bedroom.

    Cyberbullying includes sending abusive emails and/or instant messenger and chatroom messages to friends or direct to a victim, spreading humiliating gossip or malicious rumours and lies and can cause extreme distresss and misery for a child or teenager.

    Warning signs are the same for bullying (above) and may also include being more secretive about conversations with ‘friends’ online. Parents can consider limiting online access to shared family areas, especially for younger children, where any signs of distres or upset can be quickly spotted. If incidents of Cyberbullying are linked to school life, quickly bring this to the attention of the school, as all schools must have measures in place to prevent all forms of bullying.

    By Sue Twort on Feb 9, 2010

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