Bullying can be an extremely traumatic experience for children. Our experts tell parents how they recognise the signs of bullying and prevent their child from being bullied in five simple steps!
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Bullying is one of the most common childhood experiences that takes place across cultures. Though what might seem like an inevitable aspect of growing up, adversely affects student mental health! 🤯
How can bullying affect a child's development? 🤔
🔥 Expert Tip : “Bullying can have detrimental and long-lasting effects on mental health, education, future relationships and life outcomes,” says Hertfordshire based Hannah Morris, an educational psychologist and founder of Edpsych4kids. “Victims of bullying may develop depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, self-harm, substance misuse, eating problems and suicidal thoughts.”
What is bullying and where does it occur in school? 🤔
🔥 Expert Tip: “Bullying is any behaviour that is intended to hurt,” says Lauren Seager-Smith CEO of UK-based Kidscape, an anti-bullying organisation.“It is repeated and it’s hard for the person or people on the receiving end to defend themselves.”
Bullying can take many forms. It can be physical, emotional (verbal abuse and social exclusion) and even cyberbullying.
Why does bullying happen? 🤔
🔥 Expert Tip: “Children that bully very often target any kind of perceived ‘difference’,” says Seager-Smith. “This means that disabled children, those with special educational needs, children with any kind of disfigurement, young carers, children in care, children from a minority ethnic background, children living in poverty, children who are bereaved, children with allergies, children who do not conform to gender ‘norms’ or are exploring their sexuality are very often targeted.”
How can bullying be stopped? 🤔
The first step is to recognise that your child is being bullied.
For Kidscape some common signs of experiencing bullying are :
- Change in your child’s behaviour (they become louder or quieter).
- They are scared to go to school or take part in their usual activities.
- They express unexplained illnesses like tummy bugs and headaches.
- Experience disturbed sleep or bed wetting.
- Have unexplained injuries.
- Their belongings are often lost or stolen.
What can parents do if students are being bullied? 🤔
👉 Create Space For Communication
Seager-Smith says it’s important that parents “don’t panic” and “stay calm”.
As they need to be clear-headed and supportive to soothe the traumatized student. 🗣
Parents also need to create a space in their busy schedules to talk to children.
🔥 Expert Tip: “Sometimes a direct question [regarding bullying] works,” says Seager-Smith. “But other times it may be helpful to go for a walk, a drive or out for food together and gently ask how they [students] are feeling about life and school. Parents should really listen and watch their [student’s] body language.”
If students still refuse to open up, parents must keep trying! ✊
👉 Supportive Communication
During communication, Seager-Smith advises parents to continuously “reassure” children that being bullied is “not their fault”, and that together with adult support they will be able to overcome it. 🤝
It would also be helpful for parents to “record” the events of bullying as students narrate it – “what has happened where, with who, and for how long.” This can prove helpful information when reporting it to the school.
🔥 Expert Tip: “Ask your child what they need. Ask them how it is making them feel, and what they most need from you,” says Seager-Smith. “It’s important that your child feels in control of the situation. They may be very fearful of the impact of telling others (being called a snitch) so work out the best action together.”
👉 Tell The School
Students might be fearful of letting teachers or the school know they are being bullied. So though this is an essential step to stop bullying, Seager-Smith advises that parents and children should agree to this step and discuss what will be told to the authorities.
👉 Get External Support
🔥 Expert Tip : “Bullying is often embedded within a culture,” says Morris. “So it takes a whole community to ensure bullying is prevented.”
Organisations dedicated to prevent bullying across the UK :
It can be extremely frustrating if the school is not helping and taking action against the bullying of your child. In this case, Seagner-Smith advises parents to “try and not get angry.”
🔥 Expert Tip: “Be clear [with the school] that you need to work together until the bullying situation stops,” says Seagner-Smith. “If you need to take it further, follow the school complaints process and contact your local children’s services team at the council. The school and the council have a legal duty to keep your child safe from harm.”
You can also call Childline at - 08001111
👉 Keep Your Child Safe
Students should not be sent to school or any spaces where they continue to be at risk of bullying. It can prove extremely traumatic for them to repeatedly stay in fear of being harmed. 😢
Another way to prevent bullying is to stop their own children from being bullies.
Though again parents shouldn’t be harsh or judge their children for doing so.
Our experts explain that students who bully others usually do so because they lack self-worth , are being bullied by others themselves or just don’t realise that they are bullying their peers.
Other reasons for being bullies also include being “popular” and wanting to show power through bullying.
Here are some tips by Kidscape on how parents can compassionately stop their own kids from being bullies.