Bullying is any form of ongoing intimidation of someone. It’s easy to think of bullying as something that only happens among children or teenagers.
Bullying behaviour can include:
Often people being bullied won’t talk about the situation straight away. Signs your son or daughter is being bullied include:
These things don’t necessarily mean they are being bullied, but if you notice some of these signs it might be worth keeping an eye out.
Try to stay calm and not over-personalise the situation. Stress is a normal reaction, but it won’t make anything any easier.
Encourage discussion and try to find out what’s happening and more importantly, how your son or daughter sees the situation: what’s their point of view?
Believe what your son or daughter tells you. This will help them trust you to help. Reassure them it’s not their fault. There is still a stigma attached to bullying and some young people feel they have brought it upon themselves.
Try not to ask too many questions. Remind them being bullied isn’t about being weak and being a bully isn’t about being strong.
Tell them they are doing the right thing by talking to you about it.
Make them aware they’re not alone. Explain that many people experience bullying at some point in their lives and sometimes it’s inevitable.
Teach them about different styles of communication and how to be more assertive. Let them know it’s OK to say no and be true to their own needs and feelings.
If your son or daughter is in school, open a dialogue with the school. They should have policies to deal with bullying and need to know it’s going on. Let them know you’re prepared to deal with this in a positive way, but that you won’t tolerate the bullying.
Before you approach the school, list all the facts. You’ll need as much information as possible. Gather what happened, who was involved, when it occurred, who witnessed it, anything your son/daughter did that may have provoked the incident, whether it was a one-off or a series of events.
Don’t arrive at the school unexpectedly. Make an appointment with the class teacher or principal.
Avoid accusing the school. They may be unaware of the bullying.
Give specific examples of how your son/daughter is being bullied.
Discuss what action the school will take. Be patient, allow the school time to deal with the problem but stay in touch with them. Arrange a follow up with the school to see how the situation is being resolved.
If your son or daughter is out of school, or being bullied by people with no connection to their school you won’t necessarily have the structure of an institution to help you.
It’s therefore important your son or daughter knows you’re there to support them. Work on confidence building with them and their ability to effectively communicate.
If your child is bullying someone else, don’t be too quick to judge or condemn them. Don’t ignore the situation either.
Aside from the wellbeing of whomever they’re bullying, bullies often have issues or problems of their own that may need dealing with.
There can be many reasons why someone bullies, including:
If you feel you need it, there is face-to-face help available. Remember, bullying is a behaviour, not a trait. There is a lot that can be done to stop someone from bullying.