Do you know if your child is being bullied? Here are some signs to watch for: Feelings of rejection Low self-esteem, poor grades at school Isolation, withdrawal from group activities at school and outside of school, aggressiveness, nervousness, extreme sensitivity, fear or refusal to go to school.
What is bullying?
Psychologists define bullying as a power relationship carried on by one individual or a group of individuals towards another person. Bullying does not necessarily need to be brutal or physical violence, rumours, threats and hurtful words also lead to feelings of rejection.
What does bullying look like?
Teasing, hair pulling, pushing, pinching or touching without consent, insulting somebody by making crude, sexist, racist or homophobic remarks, spreading rumours Threatening looks, unsightly gestures, writing unpleasant things about somebody (on paper or by email), threatening or scaring somebody, stealing, “taxing” (extortion of money and personal items).
Targets for bullying:
Choice of clothing, physical differences or faults (fast, slow, big or small development), distinctive characteristics of parents (different education from other parents of the region, religion, origin, language), nutritional habits, speech impediments, introverted personality, solitary person
What Should Children Do?
Do not answer back with verbal violence Ignore the insults by walking with your head up high. If you witness bullying towards another student, it is best to immediately refer what you have seen to an adult.
What Should Parents Do?
Discuss the problem with your child and try to obtain the name of the bully Discuss the problem with the teacher and the principal of the school. Advise the child, but try not to do everything in his or her place. Guide the child towards out-of-school activities. Do not encourage verbal or physical violence as a suitable means of defense. Do not trivialize the problem. Take it seriously! (Source: Mia Lambert, Jeunesse J’ecoute and Annie Fernandez, Le Journal de Quebec
How can I tell if my child is being bullied at school?
- Shows an abrupt lack of interest in school or after school activities
- Takes an unusual route to school or after school activities
- Suffers a drop in grades
- Withdraws from family and school activities and wants to be left alone
- Is hungry after school – saying he /she lost money or wasn’t hungry at school
- Makes a bee line for the bathroom after school
- Is sad, sullen, angry or scared after receiving a text message, phone call or email
- Uses derogatory or demeaning language when talking about peers
- Stops talking about peers and everyday activities
- Has disheveled, torn or missing clothing
- Has physical injuries not consistent with the explanation
- Has physical complaints – headaches, stomach aches or changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Shows symptoms of depression
- Begins or increases using substances
What should I do if my child tells me they are being bullied?
- Acknowledge the child – I hear you, I believe you, I will help you, Tell me about it , Listen
- Try and instill that it is not their fault – the blame belongs to the Bully – no one deserves to be bullied
- Help you child figure out ways to assertively stand up for themselves and steer clear of the situation – take power back
- Report the bullying to teachers, caregivers etc.
- Keep and accurate record – what, when, where
- Ensure that there is adequate supervision for your child so that he/she is not victimized again
What should I not do if my child tells me they are being bullied?
- Minimize or rationalize the incident
- Rush in to solve the problem – unless there is a serious physical threat
- Tell your child to run or hide
- Tell your child to fight back – do not want your child to use violence as a response
- Confront the Bully or their parents
- Make promises you may not be able to keep – you may need to inform police etc.
How do I get my child to disclose if they have been Bullied?
- Talk to your child
- “I am concerned that something may be going on at school that is upsetting you”
- “I want you to know that I will believe you and support you and help you deal with it”
- If and when they do talk – Listen and then respond. Let them know they will not be blamed
What should I do if the Bullying is occurring on the weekend?
- Ask your child if they know the Bully – get a description
- Suggest strategies for avoiding the situation – ie alternate routes. buddying up etc.
- Let people in the community know – ie – Mall security, Community centre staff, group leaders etc.
- Help you child develop a safety plan
How do I try and protect my child from Cyber Bullying?
- Familiarize yourself with on line activities. Learn about websites, chatrooms and lingo that your children are using
- Keep the computer in a common area
- Keep open communication lines with your children so that they will feel comfortable talking to you about any incidents of cyber bullying.
- Let them know that you are there to help and support them and will not be angry with them
- Recognize that online communication is a very important social aspect of kid’s lives and do not automatically shut down online privileges.
- Talk to your child about what is acceptable behavior on and off line
- Report any serious on line harassment or threats to your Internet Service provider and the police.
- Report any serious cell phone harassment or threats to your phone service provider
- Save any harassing or threatening e mails and telephone messages.
What do I do if no one will help me and no one believes me that my child is being bullied?
- Who have you spoken to and what was the response
- Gather the information about the incident and be specific about time, place, events
- Call the school etc. and ask to make an appointment with the Teacher/ principal to talk about the incident
- Keep notes
- Ask how they plan to address the incident
- Follow up to make sure the incident has been addressed
- If you are not satisfied that the incident has been addressed adequately take your concerns to the next level
At what point do I call the police?
- When the teasing and taunting becomes threatening, intimidating or assaultive