What is bullying?

Whilst bullying does not have a legal definition, it is usually defined as repeated behaviour which is intended to hurt someone either emotionally or physically,and is often aimed at certain people because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation or any other aspect such as appearance or disability.Bullying can take many forms including:

  • physical assault
  • teasing
  • making threats
  • name calling
  • cyber bullying

Bullying can happen anywhere: at school, travelling to and from school, in sporting teams, between neighbours or in the workplace.

(Source: https://www.bullying.co.uk/general-advice/what-is-bullying/)

How to deal with bullying- Advice for parents

If your child tells you they are being bullied, it is vital you stay calm, listen intently and offer comfort and support and reassure them that together you will resolve this issue and do something about it- as many children are often scared to tell their parents due to worrying their parents will be angry or disappointed in them. This comes from the feeling that children get when they are being bullied that it is their fault, that it is them that has brought on the bullying by acting in a specific way, for example. After listening to them, be sure to praise them for talking to you about it and explain they have done the right thing. Your next step, as a parent, is to inform someone at the school- they are in the position to be able to observe and monitor when and if the bullying continues and take the appropriate steps to prevent it in the future. Most schools will have an anti-bullying policy and will have a programme they abide by in order to prevent bullying happening within their school. If a school is made aware of bullying occurring on their premises or by someone else in the school, it is vital they follow their anti-bullying policy and programme to deal with it professionally and effectively. If you are unaware of your schools policy on bullying, ask the school to see it or it should be uploaded on their website.

If after leaving it in the schools hands, the bullying has still continued or got worse, then it is a useful approach to talk directly to the bully’s parents. Most bully’s parents will not be aware of their children’s actions and will be able to punish them according. However, it is important that this is done in front of a school official, such as a head teacher or counsellor, in order for them to mediate and be aware of what is happening.

If, however, the bullying causes you to have serious concerns for your child’s welfare and safety then take further action. Research the laws in your community and contact legal authorities. Throughout any course of action you take, ensure you are constantly talking to your child, informing them of what is happening, asking them if there has been any changes and so on- this will make them aware they are not alone and you are both working together on this.

How to deal with bullying- advice for children

The first thing to do if you are being bullied is to tell someone-whether it is a friend, teacher or your parents. This is the only way it will stop. After you done this, make sure you follow the advice you are given from your parents and teachers regardless of whether you believe it be the best course of action to take. Fighting or bullying back must be avoided in every circumstance as it has the risk of not only escalating the situation but also resulting in you getting in trouble. It is better to walk away and stick with your mates.

There is something known as the “buddy system”- this is where you “buddy” up with someone and wherever you go, be it the bathroom or the locker, go with the buddy so you are never alone and will never have to face the bully on your own. This is a useful strategy to use as by avoiding the bully and if the bully can never get you on their own then eventually they will just get bored of trying to bother you.

Also, whilst it is understandable to get upset, unfortunately this is what bullies thrive on as they feel like they are in control and have power over you. It is useful to try and learn how to not react by crying, going red or looking upset and affected by the actions of the bully- this is a difficult skill to learn, but it extremely useful. This can be done by having a “poker face” until the bully leaves you alone. This means you do not react to any thing the bully says or does, including laughing or smiling. Other strategies could be counting to ten in your head, or walking away.

It is extremely important to talk about it- most schools have an anti-bully policy and would want to be made aware of any bullying that is happening under their roof. Talking about it to someone you can easily confide in, will help you feel at ease and a little less alone, but it will also help to bring the bullying to an end. Whoever you tell, whether it be a teacher or parent, be sure to keep them updated of any actions the bully makes, and be sure to ask questions if you need to.