Bullying in nutshell
Bullying can happen to almost anyone. Almost 8 out of every 10 children in United States are victims of bullying. Bullying includes teasing, calling someone names, threatening or harassing them. Sometimes it also gets physical, with the bully taking a child's belongings or even pushing and attacking him. Ignoring and excluding a child from friendship groups is also a form of bullying.
How can I tell if my child is being bullied?
It is not always easy to tell if your child is being bullied. Some symptoms to look out for are:
Your child getting upset at the thought of going to school
Your child saying he feels too 'unwell' to attend school every day
A change in the usual behaviour pattern of your child - he may become very quiet, resentful or be more demanding of your time.
Unexplained cuts and bruises
What can I do if my child is being bullied?
Every school works hard to try to prevent bullying, but unfortunately it can still happen.
Some children are afraid to talk about bullying as they think telling an adult might make things worse. Whatever age your child is, let him know that you are there for him to talk about anything if he needs to.
If your child does tell you he is being bullied, help him to feel that it's not his fault and that he doesn't deserve to be bullied. Talk together about what you can both do to stop the bullying.
Do take your child seriously if he says he's being bullied. The problem may be easy to sort out, and it may even seem trivial to you, but he needs to feel you're on his side. Remember, girls can be bullies, and they often bully boys, too.
If other students at the school are bullying your child, the school has a responsibility to try to sort the problem out.
If your child is being bullied at school, encourage him to talk to his teacher or form tutor as well as to you.
Contact the school and make an appointment yourself, too. A teacher, tutor or year head will know all the children well and will be able to help you decide the best way of sorting out the problem.
During this appointment, do address the issue calmly. It's natural to feel angry but there isn't any point in being confrontational with the teacher. Discuss the problem and try to come to a resolution. If you feel the issue isn't being dealt with effectively, you may need to contact a more senior member of staff.
If your child tells you about being bullied, keep a record of every incident, noting down what happened with dates and times. This will be useful evidence to take to the school if the bullying continues.
Sometimes bullying takes place out of school hours. It might also be done by students from a different school. If this happens, schools may need to work together to resolve the problem.
Parents of children being bullied could get together and form an anti-bullying action group to support their children.
What if my child is a bully?
If you find out that your child is bullying others, it's likely to be a shock. Do try to stay calm, though, so you can get to the bottom of what's going on.
Discuss what has been going on with your child and find out his side of the story. Children bully for a number of reasons. It may be that he is being bullied himself, or he may be trying to get attention or become popular with a group.
Help your child to understand how his actions are affecting other children. You may need to talk about this over a period of time. He needs to know that bullying is totally unacceptable.
If the bullying is happening at school, talk to your child's teacher or form tutor to get a better picture of what is going on and what can be done.
If there are other children involved in the bullying, they may be putting pressure on each other. It may help to speak to their parents - they will probably be as anxious as you are to put an end to the problem.