Combat bullying

We all remember our childhood memories from primary school. The days spent in bucket hats and checkered dresses, playing in the tanbark grounds of the school yard. Enthusiasm would explode from the ding of a lunchtime bell, triggering a stampede out of the classroom doors and into the sunshine of the playground. But for some, these lunchtime breaks weren’t always sunny and for almost half of Australian children, primary school days weren’t happy days.

The ghost of primary school bullies past still lingers in many of our memories. Its shadow still sending shivers down our spines, in fear that our children may be in line for the next haunting.

According to Kids Helpline, a survey of schools in approximately 40 countries found that Australian primary schools had some of the highest reports of bullying in the world. Research showed that by Year 4, 25% of students were affected by bullying and incidents peaked during the final years of primary school, with 32% of students being targeted.

No child should suffer in silence and parents need to form a tight-knit support group with the school to develop prevention strategies. “Regularly talk to your child about their school life and about any emerging issues,” Kids Helpline suggests. “Believe what your child is telling you and explore how they may be emotionally reacting to the bullying.”

School-related bullying has three main components: a deliberate intent to harm, a power imbalance between the perpetrator and the victim and often repeat behaviour. Recognizing symptoms and signs is the key to confronting the incident and putting a stop to the behaviour.

Bully Zero Australia Foundation says “early intervention is the best solution” and parents should aim to combat the problem in its early stages. “Take notes, record the responses and ask questions: what happened, who is involved, when did it occur, what did you do and who did you speak to?Speak to the child care/kindergarten teacher, school or organisation involved and ask to see their bullying policy.”

Primary school days should be spent playing tag in the school yard and getting your knees dirty building sandcastles in the sandpit. These are the memories that should linger.

Need help? Contact Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline 13 11 14.

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