Schools around Australia are working on strong policies and strategies to eliminate bullying. Here are some facts about bullying and what you can do to help.
What is bullying?
Bullying can take many forms. It can be verbal, physical and involve social behaviours that cause physical as well as psychological harm. It can happen in person and online, and it can be obvious or hidden.
Impacts of bullying
Bullying impacts on a child’s self-esteem and confidence, and can impact on learning as well. Children who are bullied can also have lower school attendance, due to an increased chance of anxiety, headaches and mental health problems.
Bullying of any form, or for any reason, can have long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders.
The child who has been bullying
It can be upsetting to be told that your child has bullied others. It’s important to stay calm and learn more about your child’s behaviour so that any bullying behaviours can be addressed. Children who bully others may need help to develop their empathy, learn about the effect of their behaviour on others, and be accountable for the harm they may have caused.
The child who has seen bullying take place
Even witnessing bullying can be disturbing for a child. Research shows that peers are present in 85 per cent of bullying incidents at school. Bullying has been shown to stop within 10 seconds when bystanders take positive action. Children who witness or know bullying is occurring may require support to deal with what they have seen or what they know is taking place—or to develop the confidence and skills to take positive action.
What can you do?
Talk to your child
If your child is being bullied, listen to them and encourage them to talk about what happened. Assure your child that, under no circumstances, is bullying acceptable. Support and comfort them as much as possible so they feel safe.
Visit the school
Report the bullying to your child’s school so the staff members are aware of the issue. It might be a good idea to organise a meeting for you and your child with a school teacher or counsellor. Ask the school for a copy of the school’s safety and wellbeing policies.
Visit a counsellor
If your child is still feeling the effects of bullying, it might be a good idea to take your child to talk to a counsellor to help them get through this time and build their resilience.
The Bullying. No Way! website provides lots of information for parents and students on how to deal with bullying.
Encourage your child to be cybersmart to help prevent online bullying. Help your child by asking them to teach you how to manage the privacy settings on their mobile devices.
A good starting point on information and assistance with online safety is the eSafety website.