Alarming new statistics show that bullying touches the lives of up to 25% of school-going children on a daily basis. Bullying may take the form of taunting and teasing, verbal abuse, aggression and physical harm. Bullying inflicts lasting emotional and physical scars, compromises the secure and friendly school environment and severely hampers learning. Your child may be too scared or embarrassed to tell you about their experiences. There are several warning signs that you can look out for that will help you to identify a child that is being bullied.
Some of the behaviours that suggest that children are being bullied include:
- Frequent illness; stomach aches and headaches can be a result of anxiety associated with bullying. Students may also be trying to avoid school by staying at home.
- Sudden changes in behaviour such as moodiness or shyness.
- Heightened anxiety, panic attacks, fearfulness, nightmares and a reluctance to attend school.
- Sleeplessness and exhaustion or sleeping too much.
- Wanting to change buses, classes or their walking route to school.
- Needing extra money for lunch and possessions that are often damaged or lost.
- Increased aggression at home towards younger siblings or other children.
What can you do?
If you suspect your child may be a victim of bullying, speak to them about it. Listen to their concerns and explain that they don’t deserve to be treated badly. Do not put the onus on your child to overcome the problem; instead work with them, their teachers and the school to resolve the situation. Discuss coping strategies with your child and try to help restore their confidence. Role-play possible scenarios so that your child learns how to respond to bullying behaviour from their peers. Encourage your child to engage in social and extramural activities. This will help them to create a circle of friends and bolster their self confidence.
Talk to the school and the teachers. All schools should have a policy in place to deal with bullies. Discuss possible solutions with your child’s teachers and the school councillor. Encourage your child to report bullying to an adult when it occurs so that immediate action can be taken.
If your child is a victim of cyber bullying through their social media interactions, teach them how to block people who are sending negative messages and how to limit their online presence so that only their friends and families have access to their personal information.
Support Pink Shirt Day on February 29th, 2012 by wearing a pink shirt to create awareness and show your support for victims of bullying. You can also donate to various charities which help support victims of bullying and campaign for the prevention of bullying in schools. Lady Gaga has launched the Born this Way foundation which aims to prevent bullying and create a tolerance for diversity in schools.Pic by College Degrees 360