28 Jun

28 June 2024

Bullying is aggressive behaviour that happens among school children involving an actual or perceived imbalance in power. The behaviour is either repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time. Victims of bullying and those who bully others may experience long-lasting social challenges in the future.

School bullying usually takes place within and outside of school. It can take several forms, including physical, verbal, or emotional. Although it can happen almost anywhere in or around the school, it most frequently occurs during breaks, restrooms, hallways, group work classes, and after-school events.

Bullying can be detrimental to your child, and as a parent, you hold a crucial role in dealing with it. You have the power to learn and understand how to address bullying if your child is a victim or the perpetrator. Your vigilance, along with that of educators, is key. By staying alert, looking for warning signs, and addressing problems swiftly, you can help create a safe environment for all learners.

  • Verbal bullying is the act of saying or writing mean things.
  • Social or relational bullying involves harming someone’s reputation or relationships.
  • Physical bullying consists of harming a person’s body or belongings.

As a parent, below are a few warning signs that you can look out for if you suspect that your child is a victim of bullying:

  • Sudden decreased interest in school (wants to stay at home), school activities, and quality of school work.
  • Seems happy on weekends but unhappy, preoccupied, or tense on Monday (school day), posing frequent illnesses such as headaches and stomach aches.
  • Comes home with unexplained scratches, bruises, and torn clothing and suddenly becomes moody, irritable, or angry and starts bullying others (e.g., siblings and children in the neighbourhood).
  • Talks about being sad, anxious, depressed, or having panic attacks;

Remember: For behaviour to be labelled as bullying, it has to be persistent (repeated over time) and intentionally designed to hurt or frighten, as the bully has power and control over your child. This means it might not be easy for your child to be open and expose that they are being bullied. However, if you happen to get the truth, as a parent, it’s crucial to create a safe space for your child to share their experiences. You must:

  • Find out what happened, who was involved, when and where it happened, and keep a record of this information. Express confidence that you, the adults at school, and your child can find a solution.
  • Assure the child/ren that you will immediately investigate and report the situation to the school teacher or principal.
  • Suggest that your school increase supervision in high-risk areas where the child has to go or closely monitor the child’s interactions with other learners.
  • Stay calm; be sensitive to the fact that your child may feel embarrassed and ashamed.
  • Let your child know that feeling hurt, fear, and anger is normal. It’s important to avoid blaming your child for the bullying. Most of the time, this action could be more practical. However, not all parents of bullies respond protectively.
  • Don’t tell your child to retaliate, as retaliation frequently makes the bullying worse and more persistent. Also, don’t tell your child to ignore the bully. Most of the time, ignoring doesn’t work, but you can act against the bullying as a parent.
  • Monitor your child’s whereabouts and his friendships, watch for signs of depression and anxiety in your child, and do not hesitate to seek professional counselling.

Remember, seeking professional help is not a sign of failure but a proactive step towards helping your child overcome bullying challenges. If your child has experienced bullying, you can seek professional private assistance or contact an organisation like Childline South Africa. They can provide counselling services to support your child in overcoming these challenges and leading a normal life at school and home.

Ref: www.education.gov.za                                                                         www.uasa.org.za



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