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How to Beat Bullying

Facts about bullying

Bullying can be defined as a need to repeatedly hurt someone verbally or physically. Bullies usually resort to this behaviour as a way to feel powerful or superior to the person they are victimising.

Facts about bullying

Bullying can be defined as a need to repeatedly hurt someone verbally or physically. Bullies usually resort to this behaviour as a way to feel powerful or superior to the person they are victimising.

Things a bully may do to victimise your child:

· Tease relentlessly · spread malicious rumours
· Use threatening behaviour
· Become physically violent
· Deliberately leave your child out of activities
· Take or steal your child’s belongings
· Wilfully damage your child’s property

There are three types of bullying – physical, verbal (emotional) and cyber – the latter being one of the most prevalent forms of bullying since the advent of online social platforms.

All forms of bullying should be taken seriously because when a child or even an adult is bullied it can cause severe anxiety and depression. The victim may even turn to self-mutilation, substance abuse and ultimately suicide.

Did you know? In South Africa alone, over 3 million learners are bullied every year and 1 out of 10 children drop out of school to avoid being further bullied.

These facts tell us that bullying is out of control and as parents we need to teach our children that it is unacceptable. We must let them know we are listening and will support them if they are ever bullied. It is our job as parents to take action if we think our children are being victimised by a bully or if we discover they are actually doing the bullying.

Warning signs your child is being bullied

If your child has become a victim to bullying you may not immediately recognise the signs. That is because bullied children often try to hide it from their parents and teachers for fear of being targeted even more by the bully. However, there are ways you can tell if your child is being bullied.

Look for these 5 red flags:

1. Excuse after excuse – Your child will make regular excuses why they can’t go to school, the most common being they feel sick.
2. Grades go down – If you are puzzled over your child’s declining grades when normally they do well, there is usually an underlying problem like bullying.
3. Avoiding physical activities – Your child will stop doing physically active extra murals and won’t want to do any physical education at school because this is often where they are targeted by bullies.
4. Unexplained injuries – Most children end up with scrapes and bruises when they are having fun. It’s when they can’t explain where the injuries came from or their story changes that you need to become concerned.
5. Sleep issues – If your child goes from sleeping well to becoming a restless sleeper who struggles to either fall asleep or wake up that you may have something to worry about.

What can you do to prevent your child from being bullied?

Talk to your children openly and honestly about bullying from an early age. Explain to them what bullying is and that it is unacceptable to bully people. Start a “zero-tolerance for bullying” culture at home.

Children learn from their parents. They model themselves on their parents’ behaviour and how they interact with other people. Show your children how to be kind and respectful by treating them this way.

Parents need to take an active role in their children’s lives and be more involved than ever when it comes to protecting them from cyber-bullying. Set strict boundaries with regards to the use of devices and the internet. Really, your children should only be given access to cell phones and the internet when they reach grade 7 / early high school. Make sure you know who they are messaging and what they are messaging. Check what websites and social media platforms they are visiting.

Keep the lines of communication open at all times with your children and reassure them you are always there for them no matter what.

What should you do if your child is being bullied?

The most important thing to do is listen to what your child is saying. Check for warning signs and do not ignore the problem in the hope it will go away. In fact, you should act as soon as possible to deal with the situation. Otherwise it may be too late.

Remember, children don’t always talk about everything that is going on at their school and in their lives. It is up to you as the parent to make it easy for your child to approach you about bullying.

If you discover your child is being bullied at school, don’t overreact. Give your child a safe and loving space to talk to you. Then calmly contact the school and find out who you should speak to about the issue. Usually it will be a school councillor, teacher or grade head. When you meet with the school make it clear you are there to find a solution that will benefit your child.

Don’t angrily approach the parents of the bully. Often they aren’t aware of their child’s anti-social behaviour. Or they may be dealing with their own crisis at home which is why their child is acting out. Ask the school to invite the bully’s parents to the meeting and set out to find a constructive solution for everyone involved. As tough as it may be, you should try be the bigger parent for your child’s sake.

If you suspect your child is being bullied because of the warning signs discussed above, or because your child comes to you with the information, immediately make an appointment with your doctor who will suggest the best course of action.

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.