Many children have to cope with bullying. There are different types of bullying and some are easier to cope with than others – here are some pointers
Types of bullying:
- Spreading nasty rumours
- Abusive texts, emails, or posts on the internet
- Intimidation and violence
Effects of bullying
There is no doubt that for some children, bullying is the most stressful experience of their lives. Some children fear it so much they refuse to go to school or find excuses to avoid situations where bullying can take place.
Children have to be taught to ignore certain level of teasing, and parents need to provide support so the child can cope with this. But physical threats or continual taunting is distressing and should never be tolerated. Bullying can on rare occasions lead to suicide or attempted suicide, so it must always be taken seriously.
Some children are more likely to be the victims of bullying than others. Those with an obvious physical characteristic, such as being overweight, can become targets, as can those with some form of disability. Those who are shy or who find it hard to stand up for themselves may also be vulnerable.
Victims of bullying often feel ashamed of what’s happening and blame themselves. It’s here that friends and important adults have a key role to play – bullying victims need support to see that it’s not their fault and that something can be done to help them.
When bullying happens, most of the attention is focused on the victim. But we need to pay attention to the bully, too. Bullies are often people who’ve been bullied or abused themselves, and may be vulnerable and angry. A lot can be done to help them deal with their pain and avoid taking it out on others.
Not all bullying happens at school. Most people assume that bullying happens exclusively at school, but it can happen anywhere, such as online and sometimes at home, possibly by an older sibling.
What to do
If your child is showing signs of stress and you are not sure what is going on, bullying may be one possible cause. All schools are required to have an anti-bullying strategy. As a parent, you can find out if this is working. If it is not, get support from other parents to insist it does.
If you do find out that your child is being bullied, offer help but be sensitive. Rushing to the school and demanding action is not necessarily the best approach. Some children are often worry about any move a parent might make, and fear reprisals from the bullies if action is taken by the school.
The best thing to do is talk things over with your child and work out a strategy they are satisfied with. This may involve getting support from friends or other parents, a quiet talk with a trusted teacher or even thinking about changing schools.