Friday 16 March 2018 is the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. On this day all students are encouraged to ‘take a stand together’ against bullying, whether it’s inside the school gate or online. It is an opportunity for Australian schools to stand united in their communities to say that bullying and violence is unacceptable. Find out the important role parents play in helping to stop bullying in schools.
What is bullying?
Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated behaviour that 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, is ongoing and it can be obvious or hidden. Bullying of any form or for any reason can have long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders.
Australian research suggests that around one in four students has experienced some level of bullying face-to-face and one in five has experienced bullying online.
What can parents do about bullying?
Parents and carers have an important role to play in helping prevent bullying and to respond effectively if it happens. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know what to do when your teen talks to you about bullying. Check out the Bullying. No Way! website for lots of information for parents and students on how to deal with bullying.
Talk about it
If your teenager talks to you about bullying:
- Listen calmly and get the full story – ask sensitive, open-ended questions to get more details if you need to – for example, ‘Was there anybody else that saw what happened?’ ‘Where did it happen?’
- Reassure your teen they are not to blame and that you are there to support them. You could say things like, ‘That sounds really hard to deal with. No one should have to put up with that.’ or ‘I’m so glad you told me. You should be able to feel safe at school.’
- Ask your teen what they want to do about it and how you can help. Try not to jump in and solve the problem – instead help them to find their own solution. This can help your teen feel they have some power in the situation.
- Visit the Bullying. No Way! website, which has lots of tips and ideas on how to deal with different bullying situations.
- Contact the school. Some children, and particularly teenagers, may be reluctant for you to do this, so discuss the idea with them first and reassure them that the school would want to know and will be able to help. Make an appointment to meet with your teen’s teachers and, if you need to, ask to talk with the principal. Contact the school immediately if you have a concern about your teenager’s safety.
- Check in regularly with your teen. It can take time to resolve issues, so try to keep the conversation going with your teenager about their experiences and their feelings.
Want more information?
The Student Wellbeing Hub website also includes resources about bullying and student wellbeing for parents and students.
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner website has great information about online safety issues and resources to discuss with your teen.