Bullying: What Can You Do?
Bullying, a type of aggressive behavior, often involves school going children in a real or perceived power imbalance, but parents are often unaware of their children’s ongoing battle with bullying.
Is your son or daughter reluctant to go to school? Do you see unexplained bruises on her body? Is she losing interest in school and related activities? Do you feel your child is socially isolated? If you're mentally checking off these questions with yeses, then it may be that your child is experiencing bullying at school. All the students in the world, approximately a billion of them according to the UN reports, have the right to be taught in a safe and stimulating environment. Unfortunately, many others schools are neither able to guarantee such an opportunity, nor are they able to offer protection from bullying and the terror it encompasses.
Much of the bullying done or experienced is often on school grounds. Bullying, which is a type of violence, is more of a pattern of behavior rather than an isolated event. It has a detrimental impact on the victim, the bully (as ironic as it may sound), and many others around them. We see bullying prevalent in almost all schools and according to findings from Plan International, it is estimated that almost 246 million boys and girls across the world suffer from some form of school violence.
Because bullying comes in various forms—verbal, social, physical and cyber—it can be difficult to notice and pinpoint if your child is really being bullied at school. If you come to conclusion that your son or daughter is most definitely suffering from the adverse effects of bullying, it can be difficult to find the right way to deal with the issue, because of its intricate nature.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with bullying:
Your attitude and actions matter
Often times, bullying goes unreported because children and students are afraid that they may be burdening their parents or teachers. So, when you first discover that bullying is a regular occurrence for your little one, try to be patient. Listen to what she has to say and be sure not to under or overreact, because it takes courage to speak about the bullying at school. Blaming or criticizing your child is something you want to avoid as this might give her the wrong idea that the bullying was a result of her actions. And do not hesitate to get professional help if needed.
Child safety strategies
Now that you know what’s disturbing your child everyday at school, you want to teach her how to stay safe in the future. Teach her how to report bullying incidents and what she should tell her teachers: What is being done to her? Who is doing it? Why is it making her fearful? What she herself has done to prevent such incidents?
While explaining in detail how to stay safe, tell your child to call up an available adult right away if possible. If no one is around and she can’t seem to get a hold of anyone through her mobile (is she has one), encourage her to find a safe place, such as a library or other public place to stay when pursued by bullies. Always encourage her to walk with an adult or an older child when on school grounds if bullying is severe.
Your child’s self-esteem is important
If your child has a weak or fragile personality, it makes her vulnerable to bullies because bullies only prey on the weak, or in other words, someone less confident, outgoing and strong than them. Encourage your child to walk with confidence and engage with calmer, friendlier people at school. Oftentimes, making new friends creates a new environment for children, allowing them to help lose that negative stereotype of being the victim. Try your best to keep them physically fit even if they’re reluctant to take part in physical activities. A stronger physique results in better body coordination, less body anxiety, improved self-confidence, and better peer relationships, all of which are strong deterrents against bullies.