Being Safe at School: Understanding Bullying

Being Safe at School: Understanding Bullying

Many people go through their childhood years and are confronted by a bully at some point. Simply because this is a common occurrence certainly does not make it acceptable. While many parents might be tempted to brush it off, consider this: each day, around 160,000 students skip school due to fears of attacks from bullies. Bullying is a serious threat to children that affects them physically, mentally and emotionally.

What is a Bully?

Bullies come in many different forms and they harass others in various ways. In general, a bully is someone who harasses, threatens or otherwise makes another person feel uncomfortable. Often, these actions are recurring. Bullies might physically hurt or abuse other children, taunt them with insults or name-calling, black-mail, spread false rumors, or damage their belongings. Sometimes they may even influence others into harassing the victim in similar ways. It can be hard to pinpoint who a bully really is when they engage in passive-aggressive behavior, such as not talking to the victim (especially if they were previously friends) or backstabbing.

The Signs of Bullying

Children respond to bullying and show signs of this ill-treatment in many different ways. As a parent, look out for unexplained bruises, a sudden change in behavior or temperament, and damaged or missing belongings. Apart from this, the child may also suddenly ask to skip school or even change schools. They may be evasive in their answers or hesitate to open up about the bullying. In some instances, the child may make up vague illnesses, such as a stomachache or headache, to avoid going to school. In other cases, they may experience recurring nightmares, anxiety and fear.

Stopping the Bullying

If a child complains about bullying to a parent, it is important to consider their claim seriously. Do not brush it off or ignore it, and avoid assuming that the child is simply being over-dramatic and seeking attention. If their claim is true, it is vital to
further investigate the issue. Keep in mind that for many children, it is difficult to reveal the truth about bullying in the first place. Praise them for coming forward about it and try to comfort them. A parent can next address the bullying by discussing it with the child’s teacher, guidance counselor, and then the bully’s parents. In extreme cases, the bullying tactics may be breaking state laws. Read up about bullying laws in your area and find out if it should be reported to the police. Advise your child to stick with a group of friends at school instead of being alone. Help them to cope by avoiding or ignoring the bully, while you deal with the issue with adult authorities. Classmates can also take an active step in stopping bullying. They are at an advantage, since on average around fifty-six percent of children witness bullying in some form at school. They can help by standing up for the bully’s victim, addressing false rumors, helping the victim if they are hurt, or reporting the incident to a reliable adult.

Bullying Prevention

Parents can take an active role in preventing bullying by communicating well with their children on a daily basis. Ask about their day at school every day and get to know who their friends are. Be well familiar with the signs of bullying so that when they do crop up, action can be taken early. More importantly, talk to your child about bullying so that they can be aware of how a few other students might be prone to act. By telling the child how to address bullying before it even occurs, we can help them be prepared. It is also crucial to teach children not to be bullies themselves, and this starts at home. Apart from simply teaching children about these aspects, show them how to act if they ever see a classmate being bullied. Bullying can easily be prevented or stopped early on if children are properly aware of how to deal with it.