“Bullying, be it in the classroom, at the office, or at home, has been around since the beginning of time. Fortunately, this elephant in the room is starting to get the attention it deserves. Through my work at schools, I have been exposed to bullying in all its forms, and while I don’t regard myself an expert, the insights I have received from educators, parents and social workers have been eye-opening,” says Dee Boehner, Founder and National Coordinator of Kidz2Kidz.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is a repetitive abuse of power which is planned and intended to be hurtful. Bullying includes physical; emotional; and social abuse. We also refer to ‘bystander bullying’, which is not a direct form of bullying, but rather the act of witnessing cruel behaviour and doing nothing to address the situation. Often the bully may experience high levels of stress or feelings of worthlessness. Bullies generally have low self-esteem, which results in an overcompensation to claim back their power. They may come from an abusive and/or neglectful environment or are exposed to behaviour which they mimic when among their peers.
Questions to consider:
A. If you suspect your child is being bullied…
- Is my child expressing signs of anxiety, tension and/or withdrawal?
- Is there a drop in school performance, or an unwillingness to go to school?
- Is my child showing signs of over/under eating?
- Are there physical signs? (bruising, cuts, burns)
- Is there a change in my child’s behaviour or mood? Kids often become depressed, angry or even suicidal when bullied.
How to respond:
- It is important to remain calm.
- Create a safe, stress free environment for your child to speak openly.
- Build self-esteem; remind them this is not their fault.
- Listen and gather all the relevant information.
- Plan a clear, mindful meeting with the school principal.
- Thereafter, arrange to meet with the principal, teacher and other parents involved.
- Plan a follow-up meeting to reach a resolution that works for all parties.
B. If you suspect your child may be a bully…
- Does my child lack empathy and compassion?
- Does my child show signs of aggression or of being extremely controlling?
- Is my child frustrated or extremely anxious?
- Does my child have torn clothing or bruising?
- Are they constantly on their phones?
How to respond:
- As a parent, you will need to acknowledge their behaviour.
- Explain that it is disruptive or hurtful to others.
- Your child needs to acknowledge that they are a bully and take responsibility for their actions.
- Show your child you are there for them and provide the necessary support.
- Plan a meeting with the school Principal and follow the steps in (A) above.
It is critical to lead by example, and pay attention to what your child is saying. For bullying to become less of a problem, all role-players need do their best to change negative behaviour patterns at home and at school.
www.kidz2kidz.co.za – Cool2BKind #EndBullying