Six helpful responses if your child is being bullied

Last Friday we acknowledged the National Day Against Bullying or “Bullying No Way” day. The College was awash with orange as students participated in activities and discussions that focused on bullying prevention and brought awareness to the issue. (Photos here).

I thought in this week’s blog, I would talk about some of the strategies that we use here at the College to address bullying behaviour and some ways that you can help at home.

What is bullying?

Bullying is a set of behaviours that one person or a group direct at another in a sustained manner over a period of time. These behaviours are;

  • Name calling
  • Spreading rumours and telling lies about others
  • Playing mean spirited practical jokes at the expense of others
  • Intimidating and threatening behaviour towards others
  • Unwanted physical contact like pushing, hitting etc. towards others
  • Starting petitions against people or creating internet polls that may target people or foreseeably target people without their consent.

Bullying is when one person or a group of people go out of their way to make someone feel bad in a consistent way over a sustained period of time.

This can occur either in person or through some other communication. When this occurs through electronic devices it is called “cyberbullying” but there is no difference between cyberbullying behaviours and personal bullying behaviours. It just occurs by a different means.

While I was researching the topic, I came across this great article from ‘kidpower’ called Seven Practical People Safety Solutions for Parents. You can read the full editorial in the link but here is my edited summary.

1. Respond calmly.

When our child tells us they are being bullied our first emotion is to transform into the Hulk and hunt down anyone who dares hurt our child. However, we need to model good behaviour, so respond calmly to your child asking them to tell you more about the incident. Acknowledge their pain and ask questions to find out more details. If you become upset or angry your child will become more upset and may shut down. If your children are older they may not tell you at all if they think you will be upset.

2. Find out the facts and focus on change.

Listen to the whole story, keep asking questions and reassure your child by paying attention to what they are saying. Find out who was involved, what happened before or after the incident and focus on solutions rather than blame. Be your child’s advocate but accept the possibility that they may have contributed to the situation. We can all be blind to our children’s faults but there is no such thing as a perfect child and when we accept that fact we can see things more clearly. A good example in the article above is to say; “It’s not your fault when someone hurts or makes fun of you, but I am wondering if you can think of another way you might have handled this problem?”

3. Protect your child.

Your child needs to know you are on their side. They want you to be the strong, calm person they can tell anything to. Protecting your child means having a clear understanding of the details and the big picture.

4. Get help for your child.

“It takes a village to raise a child” is never truer than in these situations. Our classroom teachers, pastoral care teachers, pastors and staff are here to help. We have ongoing programs in place and specific courses of action to report bullying. This video shows just one of the programs we run in Primary School. Abbey and Ruby talk about how to put out friendship fires.

5. Be specific in reporting.

Many bullying behavioural problems can be successfully handled with the support of parents and that is a good thing. At times though, the problem is more severe and that is when it becomes necessary to involve the College. A report can be made either in person, by email or through our Care and Concern report that is located in Connect for Middle and Senior students. Remember when making a report to try and be as specific as possible about the behaviour, the location and the frequency of it happening. For example, “Jill is bullying me” is not as helpful as, “Jill has been calling me fat in front of my friends almost every day for the last two weeks.”

6. Cyberbullying is still bullying.

Sometimes cyberbullying can feel much worse and more public than playground bullying but one bonus is that the evidence is irrefutable. If your child comes to you with reports of cyberbullying, the five steps above are every bit as valid but encourage your child to keep the evidence and not delete anything in case it escalates and needs to be dealt with by the school.

Every one of our students has the right to live their school life free from the scourge of bullying and harassment. By creating a student culture that does not tolerate mean-spiritedness and having good reporting and resolving mechanisms in place, we are doing our best to ensure this is the case. Let me also remind you of our Anti-bullying Policy that you can find on our website under GCC Parents/Policies.

Mike Curtis, Principal


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