One in four students are bullied in Australian schools. It is an endemic problem that we need to teach our children to identify and into the future, have enough resilience to be a part of the solution.
Bullying behaviours differ from nasty, mean or rude behaviours and it is important that as parents and carers, we are using the right dialogue around these behaviours.
Bullying is when someone repeatedly and intentionally uses words or physical actions against someone in an overt or covert way, in order to have power over them. There is always an imbalance of power, for example: a bigger child having power over a smaller child or a child who has many friends having power over a child who has few friends.
Bullying is not:
A one-off fight.
Equal sided teasing or name calling.
Not liking someone.
Being the target of bullying, reduces a child’s ability to learn and increases their likelihood of developing a depressive or anxiety disorder, which is why it needs to be dealt with appropriately and swiftly.
First and foremost, be calm! Model appropriate reactions for your child. If you over-react, they will not speak with you about issues in the future.
Establish if what is happening is bullying. If it isn’t, this is an opportunity to model resilience and show them how to develop a dialogue around people who say mean things.
If it is bullying, collect evidence. If it is happening on social media, screenshot the evidence. Contact the school and make an appointment to speak with the appropriate person. All schools have behaviour policies, make sure you know what the school’s policy is in dealing with bullying and support them to follow that process.
Please don’t encourage your child to bully or fight back, stay silent or isolate themselves. As the parent/carer, please don’t contact the other child or their parents; this never has a good outcome. And at home, explicit conversations need to be had about bystanding behaviours and how your child can be a part of identifying and working to contribute to their school’s culture of care.
This guide was written by our Well-being partner, Rachel from Stymie to help our Flexischools parent community.
For more information on Rachel and the work she does through her organisation Stymie, please visit about.stymie.com.au