Is your child being bullied?

2016-04-28 06:00

BULLYING is something that has always and will always be around; lurking in the shadows of every school across the globe.

There are ways, however, to identify and address bullying when and where it presents itself in order to better safeguard your child from its destructive effects.

Warrant Officer Manisha Maharaj-Marie, policewoman at Tongaat SAPS and guidance counsellor at their on-site Trauma Centre, said the issue of bullying is very real, and one that continues to affect children in schools throughout the area.

“Bullying is everywhere. It is a very real issue with far reaching consequences and it exists in primary schools right through to secondary level,” said Maharaj-Marie, who added that many parents come to the police for advice when their children are being bullied.

“In some schools I have visited, there are cases of Grade 8 pupils bullying children as young as Grade 1 for their tuck shop money. The Grade 1 child is traumatised as a result of this behaviour and is now nervous to go to school,” she added.

Maharaj-Marie quoted another example which involved some Grade 8 girls bullying a Grade 1 girl so badly that her parents had her removed from the school.

Bullying can have a lasting effect on a child’s self esteem and confidence, especially during the formative part of their lives when a child begins to develop their own ideas of who they are.

According to Liz Watson of UK-based charity ‘BeatBullying’, difference is the number one cause of bullying anywhere in the world.

“Difference is the number one reason for why people bully. During childhood, young people are beginning to discover who they are, and appearance plays a large role in that,” said Watson.

So, what can parents and teachers do to prevent bullying? The signs of bullying are not often easy to identify; especially when your child is the bully.

For a child who is being bullied, parents can easily miss the turmoil their child is going through. Some signs your child may be a victim of bullying include inexplicable injuries, the loss or destruction of their belongings and changes in their eating habits; whether they are skipping meals or binge eating when they get home.

Frequent complaining of headaches, stomach aches, nausea or faking illness is also a sign your child does not want to go to school and may be a victim of bullying.

Children who may be bullies, on the other hand, are harder to identify, but some signs parents can look out for include a deep worry in the child about their popularity, as well as frequent visits to the principal’s office or detention. If your child has extra money or new belongings, these may also be signs they are bullying someone else.

Warrant Officer said the police have a very good relationship with all principals in the area and they are working together to address the issue of bullying in local schools.

“It is the social responsibility of the police to address the concerns of the community, and parents often come for advice if their child is being bullied. We also offer talks in schools where we discuss the negative effects of bullying for those affected,” said Maharaj-Marie.

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