Do you remember being bullied at school? Well, I do, but fortunately, it did not go on for so long and I actually survived. But what about our kids who may not be so lucky? Can we spot the warning signs? Here are some of the typical ones. They may mean that there is something else wrong at school, so it might not be this issue at all. Better to be forewarned.
If your child does not want to go to school
This could be the first warning sign that your child is being bullied. If your child is now dreading going to school, whereas previously s/he enjoyed it, then there is something amiss. Being bullied may be the cause of this discomfort. If ignored, this can turn into self-harm or an eating disorder as the child often tries to deal with the pain.
Help your child to be aware of what it involves
Watch any reality show and what do you get? Being nasty seems to work. There is nothing about empathy. This is why it is always good to teach kids to be aware of how people are feeling and how we can reach out to them. The reality show is not the example we want to teach!
Could your child be the aggressor?
Bullies have parents too! Could it be a reaction to an authoritarian style of parenting? There are various theories about this. But the lesson learned from a strict upbringing is that power and aggression are the ways to get what you want. Just following the example set by their parents!
Guess when most of all this goes on? During recess. If you get an opportunity to volunteer for recess duty, then this is a great way of keeping a watchful eye on the possible victim being bullied.
Teach your child to become an ally
Most of this nasty behavior will stop once someone intervenes. Bullying will persist if the bystanders do nothing! We can teach our kids to be a witness. If they are afraid of being bullied themselves, they can send an SMS to the child who is being attacked. But the more kids who support the victim, the better, as this is one of the most effective ways of stopping it.
How to deal with cyberbullying
If your child or teen shows you some examples of the hateful and insulting messages that they are getting online, make sure that you take a screenshot. You can send this to the head teacher if it continues, or even report it to the police when violent, aggressive language is used.
Is your child ready to defend himself?
Children who have taken martial arts classes are much more confident about facing any aggression. This also means that they are less likely to be the target of an attack or harassment. Weaker kids are more at risk of being bullied.
Let us suppose that you witness aggressive behavior or your child is being attacked on a regular basis. This is where the school should take action. You can always go to a higher authority, for example, the school board, if the teacher and the head teachers do not take your complaint any further, or refuse to take action.
It will not blow over
Do not make the mistake in thinking that it will blow over. Studies show that this type of harassment and aggression at school can have long-term effects on a child’s personality. The victims will grow up to be more fearful and will have trouble in adult life.
Show children anti-bullying strategies
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me”. That is what my mother told me and it was really useful in shrugging off insults and taunts. But the victim of bullying can often defuse the situation by trying the following:-
- Agree with the bully by saying: ‘Yes, I am fat/skinny/tall/short’
- Ask the bully for help. Tell the child to ask the bully for help with his bad spelling, math and so on
- Learn how to walk away
Finally, as parents, we need to make sure that any evidence of this type of behavior is carefully documented so that when the situation gets worse and has to be reported, you have all the evidence you need. This could be in the form of photos and screenshots.