Bullying How Can We Help Stop It

Bullying - How can I tell if my child or teenager is being bullied?

A young child may not know the word “bully”, but they knows when someone is being mean, hurting them, or making them feel sad or scared. They may not tell you because they may be worried or scared of the repercussions of them saying anything, they may have been threatened not to talk about it .

Teenagers tend to want to handle things on their own. They feel that they are old enough to cope and  won’t necessarily tell you there’s a problem either and may use a term such as “harassment” rather than “bullying” to describe what is going on, or   they might think you’ll get upset or they might just find it embarrassing to have a parent involved. 

There are signs that your child is being bullied, even if they don’t talk about it. Some of the more obvious signs are a change in behaviour, in attitude, or in appearance.

Children who are being bullied may not want to go to school or may cry or feel sick on school days. They may not want to take part in activities or school events with other students. They might suddenly begin to lose money or personal items, or come home with torn clothes or broken possessions, and offer explanations that don’t make sense.  Teens who are bullied and/or harassed may also start talking about dropping out of school, not participating in social events, avoidance is a natural defence mechanism.

Bullying can take many forms. It can be:
  • physical – hitting, shoving, stealing, or damaging property
  • verbal – name calling, mocking, or making sexist, racist, or homophobic comments
  • social – excluding others from a group or spreading gossip or rumours about them
  • electronic (commonly known as cyber bullying) – spreading rumours  and hurtful comments through the use of e-mail, mobile phones, social media
  • websites and text messaging.

If your child is being bullied there is a number of ways to help. Start by listening always keep the lines of communication open. Assure your child that they have a right to be safe.

Be clear on the facts. Make notes about what happened and when it happened. Be there for your child and report bullying incidents to the appropriate authorities, explain to your child that this is the right thing to do as it will help other kids as well as themselves.

You as a parent should make the time to speak to your child’s teacher, principle etc.

Difficult as it may be, try to remain calm so that you can support your child and plan a course of action with him or her.

Keep an eye on your child’s behaviour. If your meetings with school staff haven’t made the bullying stop, go back and talk to the principal. Follow up on the steps for ending the bullying that were agreed to at the meeting.

Speak to the instructor or coach if the bullying is taking place during  after-school activities or sports events. 

Contact police if the bullying involves criminal behaviour, such as sexual assault or use of a weapon, or if the threat to your child’s safety is in the community rather than the school.

A guide for parents who want to help:

Ask to see the school’s bullying prevention and intervention plans.

By working with the school to help your child or teen handle the bullying problem, you are leading by example and giving a clear message that bullying is wrong.

Regardless of age, you can help by encouraging your child to talk to you about it and by giving the following advice:
  • Walk away from the situation.
  • Don’t hit back, don’t talk back, don’t reply back.
  • Tell an adult whom you trust – a teacher, the principal school counsellor about what happened. .Talk about it with your brothers or sisters or with friends, so that you don’t feel you’re alone.
  • Find a friend to be with in the places where you don’t feel safe.

For more information please read our "Secrets for Stopping Bullying" ebooks.
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