Bullying - You are your child's first line of defence

2013-04-02 09:31

As a mother of a child experiencing bullying at school I think it is vitally important that parents are aware of the signs that a child is being bullied, as well as how to prevent it and what to do if it is happening to your child.

This is what I have experienced and information that I have found to be very helpful.

When I first heard that my son was being bullied at school I was horrified. It took me back to the days when I experienced bullies while I was still at school.

Bullies made my school life really difficult. There were days that I didn’t want to go to school, just so I could avoid having to deal with the children who were harassing me.

I was verbally bullied; and bullied by being excluded throughout my school career, by the time I reached high school I was threatened.

Having a difficult home life, I never had the coping mechanisms instilled in me, to deal with bullies and I crept further into my shell. Years later I found my inner strength, my self esteem and independence, and I found that speaking or writing about issues like bullying was beneficial to my growth and healing.

According to my personal experiences; my tips would be that you always speak to your child. Have an open line of communication.

My son and I have our time in the kitchen every evening. He has a passion for food so while we are cooking together he talks about his day. It’s a relaxed atmosphere so it is easy for him to talk about anything that is bothering him.

Go with your gut. If you feel that something is not right – it probably isn’t. You’ll know when to push your child for answers.

Don’t leave the situation at educating your child on how to react.

The most important line of advice I've ever been given - YOU ARE YOUR CHILD'S FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE.

Always take things further.

When you have a set meeting with a teacher or principal, go to the school prepared.

You can’t be sure of what will happen in the future, but making sure that everyone is aware of the issue at hand is a vital step.

Ensure that you and the class teacher have a clear plan of action and ask the teacher to explain this plan to your child as well as you explaining it to him or her. It leaves your child with peace of mind.

  What is bullying?  

“A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending him or herself.”

Bullying is a form of peer abuse that should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

There are nine forms of bullying.

1. Verbal bullying including derogatory comments and bad names

2. Bullying through social exclusion or isolation

3. Physical bullying such as hitting, kicking, shoving, and spitting

4. Bullying through lies and false rumours

5. Having money or other things taken or damaged by students who bully

6. Being threatened or being forced to do things by children who bully

7. Racial bullying

8. Sexual bullying

Why do children bully?

Children who bully have a strong need for power or to be dominant. They find satisfaction in causing an injury or some form of suffering to peers. Bullies thrive on negative attention. Their reward is getting a reaction from their victim. They are probably not receiving enough positive reinforcement at home and therefore seek out much needed attention by a result of their negative actions.

Children who bully are likely to have a troubled home life. This is another reason for ensuring you take action and have precise details if your child is bullied. "The Bully" may be in need of as much help as "The Victim".

Children who are being bullied often exhibit some warning signs.

These children may

Have torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings

Have unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches from fighting

Have few, if any, friends with whom he or she spends time

Seem afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organised activities (such as clubs or sports) with peers

Take a long “illogical” route when walking to or from school

Lose interest in doing school work, or suddenly begin to do poorly in school

Appear sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home

Complain frequently of headaches, stomach aches, or other physical problems

Have frequent bad dreams, or trouble sleeping

Experience a loss of appetite

Appear anxious and suffer from low self-esteem

All children deserve to feel safe at school. The effects of bullying can often last long into a victim’s future if not handled appropriately.

Victims of bullying suffer from depression, low self-esteem, health problems; they have poor grades, and even feel that suicide is a better option than dealing with a bully.

Whether you're the parent of the victim or the bully, I appeal to you to take action. A bullies unpunished play ground antics, can easily produce future domestic abusers, or work place bullies and these behaviours are more difficult to remedy.

And once again, remember that YOU ARE YOUR CHILD'S FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE.

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