What to do if your Child is Being Bullied
Too often a child sets off for school (or clubs or sports) ready to have fun and make friends and instead becomes the victim of another child’s bullying. There are many different types of bullying that can occur, and a child may show a variety of warning signs if they're being bullied. If a parent believes that his or her child may be being bullied, then asking the child about particular aspects of their day and their activities can help to elicit more information. When it is established that a child is being bullied, parents must work quickly to support their child and put an end to it.
Types of BullyingBullying is often thought to happen at school and while this may well be the main location of bullying it is not the only location. Bullying can occur on a school bus, during a walk home, at after school activities and even online. Bullying can include vicious taunts or verbal attacks, physical or sexual assaults and Cyber Bullying can even be conducted via emails or texts, or by posting pictures of someone or leading online campaigns against someone. Generally as children grow older bullying becomes more sophisticated, but this does not mean that bullying does not hurt at any age.
Warning Signs of BullyingThere are many warning signs of bullying, but not all signs will be present in all cases and not all signs can be listed since many signs will be unique to the individual victims. Many children who are being bullied will arrive home with cuts, scrapes, bruises or bites. Others may have rips, tears or stains on their clothing. Destroyed or “lost” property, including lunch money, may also be a sign of bullying.
Children may also show a return to nervous habits (nail biting, Thumb Sucking, Bed Wetting etc.), a change of sleep patterns, mood swings, general anxiety and frustration and/or a short temper with others.
This may mean that the child will act more aggressively towards others and may even begin to act out the same sort of bullying to which they are being subjected to. In general, however, parents should keep an eye out for any changes in their child’s behaviour for which they can not account. Bullying may be the cause of these changes.
Questions About BullyingIf you suspect your child is being bullied, ask them some general questions about school activities and lessons, friends at school, and what part of the day they particularly enjoyed. Also ask about other students who aren’t friends if there is anything the child particularly did not enjoy, and if the child is excited to return to school tomorrow or next week. If your child says anything worrying or that you would like to investigate further, don’t hesitate to speak with teachers and school administrators to find out more about the situation.
Putting an End to BullyingA child who is being bullied needs support and one of the best ways parents can offer this is to work to end bullying immediately. If necessary, document each warning sign of bullying (how often the child returns home with a bruise, how often possessions must be replaced, etc.) and use these facts when speaking with school officials.
Also investigate the school’s policy regarding bullying and follow their established complaints procedure. If you feel that you are not getting the response you deserve, then you may want to investigate alternative options, such as a change of classroom, school or even home-schooling.
Bullying is a terrible situation for a child to have to cope with. Parents can help their children by understanding different types of bullying, remaining observant for clues that bullying may be occurring, talking with their child to learn more about the bullying and acting to end the bullying immediately.