Safety from Bullying
Bullying is generally defined as doing something intentionally to hurt or upset somebody.
Bullying can be in many forms, either physical (e.g. hitting), verbal (name calling) or emotional (social exclusion). This can be in person, in writing or more increasingly nowadays, online or via cell phones (cyber-bullying).
Bullying can be aimed at virtually any aspect of a person's identity e.g. race, religion, weight, sexuality, accent etc. and can happen in or out of school.
In the UK approximately 60% of children have been bullied at some stage and according to some research 1 million children are bullied every week. Approximately 20 children commit suicide in the UK every year.
In the US there are over 4000 child suicides a year and it is estimated that up to a half of these have bullying as a major contributing factor.
In recent research in the US, of 2000 teens, one in five had seriously thought about suicide. It is also apparent that cyber-bullying significantly increases the likelihood of suicide
Safety Tips for Bullying
What Parents Can Do
- Listen to your children without judging. Keep communications open and be supportive and helpful at all times. Judging and showing significant irritation in your dealings with your child will not engender the right sort of confiding relationship you need if your child were to be bullied
- Watch out for any signs of bullying with your children. Sometimes they will not say it is happening. Not wanting to go to school is a classic sign or any change to appetite or an ongoing general mood change.
- If your child confides that they are being bullied never judge or tell them to fight back or in any way suggest that are not dealing with it correctly. Praise them for bringing it up and make a real big deal out of it (say how proud you are for them being strong enough to confide in you). Then tell them you will get it sorted out and fix it for them and make sure you do.
- Try and give your child the confidence to ignore bullies and to report it to a trusted person and act out a few made up scenarios to reinforce
- Get involved at school and ensure they are conversant with the different forms of bullying in today's cyber age
- Ensure your school has a bullying policy and is completely committed to carrying it out
- Ensure you are up to speed with the latest gadgets and only give your child access to items when you think they are ready AND you have set up proper security. Tell your child you will monitor emails & texts before you agree to give them gadgets and explain the reasons why. Then make sure you do monitor.
- Ensure your child does not bully others and spend time letting them know how bad this makes others feel. Ask how they would feel if someone bullied them. However be aware that children copy more what you do rather than you say so do not cuss at anyone and try to be a role model. Shouting at other drivers on the road or tearing a strip off a shop assistant in front of your children reinforces bullying behaviour.
- Let your child know they should report any bullying they see and that this is looking after someone who needs their help
What Schools/Teachers Can do
- Ensure that a written policy is in place and adhered to
- Ensure staff are trained in the policy
- Ensure the policy is carried out
- This policy should include the requirement of a positive and supportive culture where it is firmly stated that any type of bullying is completely unacceptable and will be investigated
- The policy should also ensure each child feels able to confide in at least one member of staff
- The policy should train children in how to report any bullying, even anonymously and let all children know it is completely unacceptable to bully people and there will be various consequences if they do
- The policy should also invite parents to get involved with the school in helping to prevent bullying and consider training them if necessary
- The policy should identify vulnerable/isolated children and positively find friends for them by giving them tasks with potential other caring children
- Have periodic activities (e.g. poster designs) to highlight positive friendship values and anti-bullying messages