Whether your student is a bully or is the victim of bullying, you need
to talk to your students to make sure that they understand why the culture
of bullying is destructive and how to deal with difficult situations.
What is bullying?
Bullying is any situation where “a repeated oppression, psychological
or physical, of a less powerful person by a more powerful person or group
of persons.” Any behavior that undermines confidence or hurts students
is considered bullying. Bullying doesn’t have to be physical –
mental and verbal abuse also falls under the umbrella of bullying and
can be every bit as destructive.
Get students to talk
One of the greatest difficulties in dealing with bullies is getting the
victims to talk. Part of this is fear of retribution and fear that parents
will take action which would embarrass teens. Although this may sound
counter-intuitive, it is a very real hurdle to overcome.
Create an atmosphere that is conducive to disclosure. Ensure that your
school has clear policies on bullying. Students need to be informed of
the school’s bullying policy and should be instructed on what to
do if they are bullied or if they see someone else being bullied. There
should be councillors and teachers who are dedicated to dealing with this issue.
At home, ensure that your student knows that they can talk to you about
anything. Explain to them that you will only take action if they want
you to help. Discuss ways in which your students can deal with bullies
themselves. Ask them regularly if there is anything worrying them that
they have not told you about. Be vigilant for changes in behavior that
may indicate bullying like a reticence to go to school, social withdrawal,
and rapid weight loss or weight gain etc.
Dealing with bullies
Discuss ways in which your student should deal with bullying. This will
equip them with valuable life skills and increase their confidence. They
must know exactly how to react should they be the victim of bullying or
if they should witness someone else being bullied.
Students should be confident and assertive. Help your kids to have confident
postures and attitudes and teach them to recognize potentially dangerous
situations and walk away.
Teach your child to speak up when confronted with bullying and to set
clear boundaries. Telling a bully to stop is the best way to end hurtful behavior.
If bullying persists, inform your student of the choices they have for
reporting the bad behavior.
Teach your students about Internet and cell phone security. They must be
aware of what kinds of things they should and shouldn’t bring into
the public arena. Although it may seem intuitive to you, it is a learned
response – so make sure that they are prepared. Ensure that your
students do not interact with strangers over the Internet.
Confident students are less likely to be targets and more likely to deal
effectively with bullies. Take every opportunity to build up your students
and instill a sense of self-worth.