Anti-Bullying for Parents
Working together to stop all forms of bullying – A Parents’ Guide
‘The repetitive intentional hurting of one person by an individual or group where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. Bullying can be carried out, physically, verbally, emotionally or in cyber space (Anti Bullying Alliance).’
1. Bullying related to race, religion or culture
2. Bullying related to special educational needs or disability
3. Bullying related to appearance or health conditions
4. Bullying related to sexual orientation – homophobic abuse
5. Bullying of young carers, children in care or due to home circumstances
6. Sexist or sexual bullying
Here is a list of common symptoms:
- Unwilling to go to school
- Unwilling to play out with his/her usual friends
- Refusing to travel on the school bus, requesting a lift in the car instead
- Feeling ill in the mornings
- Crying themselves to sleep at night, having nightmares, wetting the bed
- Having unexplained injuries
- Becoming withdrawn, anxious, distressed and lacking in confidence
- Refusing to talk about worries
- Becoming aggressive or starting to bully others, at home or elsewhere
- Doing poorly at school
- Being frightened to walk home from school
- Change in normal routines
Sometimes though, these symptoms can be a sign of other concerns rather than bullying.
It is often easier to determine what bullying is by understanding what bullying is not.
Bullying is not:
- Accidental contact in corridors or during sport
- Friends falling out (initially)
- Not being invited to a party or to take part in an event
Cyber-bullying is the use of digital communication tools such as email, mobile phones, blogging or social networking sites (e.g. Facebook) to deliberately hurt an individual by making threats, spreading rumours. This includes forwarding or posting information that someone else has sent you.
Hacking into another person’s personal storage area and corrupting or deleting work could also be considered cyber-bullying.
- Be aware, your child may as likely cyber-bully as be a target of cyber-bullying.
- Be alert to your child seeming upset after using the internet or their mobile phone. This
might involve subtle comments or changes in relationships with friends. They might be
unwilling to talk or be secretive about their online activities and mobile phone use.
- Talk with your children and understand the ways in which they are using the internet and their mobile phone.
- Use the tools on the service and turn on in-built internet safety features.
- Remind your child not to retaliate.
- Keep the evidence of offending emails, text messages or online conversations.
- Report cyber-bullying:
Contact the school if it involves another pupil, so that they can support those affected and take action, if appropriate.
Contact the service provider.
If the cyber-bullying is serious and a potential criminal offence has been committed, you should consider contacting the police
Whether your child has talked to you about the bullying or whether you have noticed changes in their behaviour that have alerted you to a problem, it is important to remember what an emotionally-charged problem bullying is.
Your child may feel embarrassed that they have become the victim of bullying. They may feel ashamed that they cannot deal with it alone. Feelings of guilt may lead to them unfairly examining their own behaviour but overall the bullying will leave them upset, distressed and feeling alone.
As a parent/carer it is likely that you too will have mixed feelings about the bullying. It is common to feel angry that, especially in the school setting, your child has been experiencing bullying whilst in the care of other adults. It can be upsetting to know that your child has been traumatised at the hand of others while you were not there to protect them. It is important to look after your own emotional well-being as well as your child’s.
“Your child’s unhappiness makes you unhappy, your child’s fear makes you afraid” Jenny Alexander
“Tell a teacher, ignore them, avoid unsupervised areas, make new friends” are not real options for a child whose self esteem has been damaged. Sometimes asking a child to do such things is setting them up for failure and their failure will make them and you feel more frustrated.
Loss of self confidence, low self esteem, anxiety to achieve and distress are the effects the person who bullies is looking for. When he/she can no longer produce this in your child then they will move on.
Victims of bullying need to develop psychological self-defence to protect self-image and to handle high levels of anger and fear.
YOU ARE YOUR CHILD’S MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE
Older children are generally less willing to tell anyone they are being bullied as they tend to feel that they should be able to sort it out on their own.
- Fear of reprisals
- Lack of awareness – it’s just part of my life
- Resignation – a child may start to think they are being picked on because there is actually something wrong with them
- Denial – don’t fuss, keep quiet and the problem will disappear
- Fears of parents’ reaction
- Fear that they won’t be believed or taken seriously
- Fear that the matter will be taken out of their hands
- Fear of criticism for getting into such a bad situation and/or not being able to sort it out for themselves.
- Being offered advice they cannot take, e.g. ignore it
- Fear that parents will get upset and angry
- Feel the child’s emotions – empathise don’t sympathise
- Have patience
- Create a time and place suitable to talk – make yourself available
- Help your child to feel safe to talk
- Give them your full attention
- DON’T make a joke of it
- DON’T disbelieve, belittle or patronise
- Listen for clues
- Believe the child
- Acknowledge their feelings
- Refrain from judging or belittling
- Focus on the child’s feelings and emotions
- Encouraging your child to talk will mean that your child will no longer have to treat the bullying like a secret. Secrets attract guilt and shame. It will also enable your child to release pent up emotions – that may evolve into an explosion demonstrated in your child’s behaviour.
- Keep the dialogue open.
- Praise your child for managing to talk to you about it
- Congratulate yourself on being able to help your child
All students have the right to enjoy their learning and free time at school in a safe environment, free from fear.
We are a ‘telling’ school. Students should support each other by reporting all instances of harassment. Incidents will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.
Support is available to those involved in incidents of harassment both for the victim and the bully.
This could include peer-mentoring or regular appointments with their tutor, or Head of House.
This could also mean students being referred to Student Support.
The student who is bullying should receive a warning and a possible sanction. If the bullying happens again, depending upon how serious it is, an Internal or External Exclusion will be considered.
Understandably, if your child is being bullied, as a parent you might want the bully immediately excluded or permanently removed from the school. It is important to remember that the school takes a stepped approach, depending on the severity, in a bid to resolve the situation.