What can you do if your child is involved in bullying?

Bullying is a common concern for parents as it can be detrimental to the well being of a child. These days bullying can occur in many forms not only in the school yard face-to-face, but online as the world of new communication technologies has enabled another space for bullying to occur. This in turn makes it even tougher for teachers, parents and guardians to monitor what is happening and step in when need be.

How prevalent is bullying?

A recent study by the Australian National University demonstrates that even those children who have been subjected to cyber-bullying, have also tackled traditional bullying face-to-face. A total of 3,956 children aged between 12 to 13 years were asked about their experiences; 60 per cent said they had been involved in traditional bullying as a victim and/or offender, while 8 per cent were involved in cyber bullying, 95 per cent of those involved in cyber bullying, were also involved in bullying face-to-face.

How to help?

While anti-bullying programs and policies are already well established within schools parents of children who are involved in bullying are often unsure when and how to intervene in order to provide support and take action. The Australian Physiological Society recommends a number of ways parents can help their children who are either being bullied, or those doing the bullying.

If your child is being bullied:

1. Ask

Although you may have heard from teachers and other parents, ask your child what is wrong and discuss any issues they have. Not only does this allow them to express their troubles, but it also ensures that you gain a better understanding of what is going on.

2. Remind

Children that have been subjected to bullying from a young age need to be reminded that bullying is not acceptable behaviour and that they have a right to feel safe. Let them know it is OK to speak up and ask for help.

3. Teach

By teaching your child to look the person in the eye and to calmly say ‘stop bullying me’, you’re teaching them independence and how to stand up for themselves.

4. Inform

It is always important to inform the school of what is occurring. Whether the child is subjected to face-to-face or cyber bullying the school can take necessary action or assist with the issue.

5. Seek help

A child who has been subjected to bullying is at a high risk of being bullied again. Making sure they have further help in terms of debriefing with a professional as well as assessing their social skills ensures they are able to function well at school.

If your child is bullying others:

1. Explain

If possible, supervise your child with other children. Follow up with discussions with about what bullying is and why their bullying behaviour is unacceptable.

2. Communicate

Although you may have heard reports from teachers and other parents about your child that have shocked you, stay calm and discuss with your child about what he/she is doing and ask why he/she is doing it. This way, you’re allowing your child to vocalize their side of the issue so that you can take the necessary steps.

3. Discuss

Ask how they would feel if they were the child that was being bullied (how would they feel in the others shoes) and discuss with your child the impact they are having on others.

4. Strategize

Talk to your child and come up with ways they think would help stop them from bullying and set clear rules and consequences for their inappropriate behaviour.

5. Manage

Keep in contact with their teachers, in order to monitor their progress and praise your child when they participate appropriately with other children. Also consider enrolling your child into a program that helps children learn how to manage their behaviour.

Above all, being calm and letting them know that you will provide help wherever you can, will ensure your child knows he/she is being consistently supported.

Words: Natasha Lutrov




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