As a child, I can remember going to school and dealing with the “bully”, that one child that always makes another child’s life a misery at school, threatening you to be able to make them either very popular, or just afraid of them. In South African schools bullying has become an immense problem, not only at school, but in our communities too, and we need to start facing the facts that bullying has passed the level of only small children scaring others.
Bullying is not just restricted in schools that are middle class or poor it has become a major problem regardless of school size, racial structure, whether the school is in a wealthy, middle class or poor area. Bullying has grown to the stage that now includes physical anger, threats, teasing and harassment and has even lead to violence from shooting to knife stabbing. The bully has become a nightmare for children and has left deep emotional scars.
If your child has become a victim, you want to prevent it and help to stop it. Bullying can be unlearned or even better, be prevented.
Familiarizing yourself with the Bully
As a child we have all been teased by family or friends and it’s not usually harmful, but when the teasing becomes harsh, vicious and constant, it crosses the line into bullying and needs to stop.
Bullying comes in many forms from hitting, name-calling, threats and even forcing children from their possessions. Others spread rumors about them, and social media and electronic messaging has become a new way of hurting their feelings. Bullying in today’s day and age must be taken serious and not be ignored as the saying goes “kids have to learn to be tough”. The consequence has caused tragedies, such as suicides and school shootings.
Why Children become bullies?
There are a variety of reasons that children become bullies. Some children annoy others because that’s how they have been treated. They have come under the impression that it’s normal to bully as they come from families or surroundings where everyone gets angry and uses verbal abuse. The bully needs to feel important, popular, or in control.
Is your child being bullied?
As a child, we never spoke to our parents when we had been bullied at school making it very difficult for parents to know that their children are victims of bullying at school. Some children do show warning signs if there are no visible bruises or injuries and these are the signs to look out for:
- Children start acting differently.
- Appear anxious.
- Children are not eating as they use to.
- Lack of sleep.
- Children stop doing the things they usually enjoyed doing.
- Children start showing signs that they do not want to go to school anymore.
Helping Your Child
If and when your child tells you that they are being bullied, stay calm and offer comfort and support. Children feel it’s their fault that they are victims of bullies. They are scared that when the bully finds out that they have notified someone, the bullying will become worse. They feel ashamed or that their parents will be angry or upset with them.
Most important talk to your children and tell them that if they are being bullied it’s very important to talk to someone about it. Praise your child when they do talk to you about it as this is very important to build a close relationship with your child. Comfort your child that together you will find a way to prevent the bullying from occurring again.
In some cases, it’s helpful to talk to the teachers or counselors at the school. Most schools these days have bullying policies and anti-bullying programs in place.
Advice for Children
We as parents play a major role in our children’s lives and we can learn them on how to deal with the bully. The following strategies can be followed to help improve the situation and make them feel better:
- Advise your child that it is important to not react to the bullying by fighting back as it can cause more problems. Advise them to rather walk away.
- Advise an adult that you are being bullied.
- If being bullied use the buddy system with friends and make sure that they should always be in groups.
- Advise them to hold their anger and to practice to not react by crying or being upset. Advise them, it’s better to just walk away and ignore them.
Restore your child’s confidence
To deal with bullying you can help your child to boost their confidence. Encourage them to spend time with friends. Provide a listening ear about any difficult situation they may find themselves growing up to be adults. Believe in your child and assure them that you will help them deal with problems that may be taking place and so prevent the bullying chain reaction that is occurring in this world.