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What is bullying?
According to the Department of Education’s Guidelines on Countering Bullying in Primary and Post Primary Students, published in Dublin in 1993, bullying is defined as the following: "Bullying is repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical, conducted by an individual or group against others. Isolated incidents of aggressive behaviour while they should not be condoned, can scarcely be called bullying. However when the behaviour is systematic and ongoing it is bullying"
Types of Bullying
Name calling that is persistent, hurtful, and causes humiliation. Making the person the centre of insulting jokes is included in this category.
Physical assaults such as kicking, shoving, hitting, tripping, and pushing, as well as threats of physical violence make up this category. Damaging personal property such as clothing, bags, bicycles, and other items is included as well.
This category is comprised of gestures that are non verbal in nature but include things such as stares or glares that are construed as threatening.
Exclusion includes isolating someone socially, or blatantly ignoring someone.
Extortion is the intentional taking of an item or money coupled with a threat. “If you do not give me (blank), I will do (blank)” is a form of extortion.
Physical acts of aggression, insults, and rude gestures are all forms of direct bullying.
Isolation, the spreading or rumours or lies, spreading insults in public places, and ignoring are all forms of indirect bullying.
Both teachers and parents must take action to children are not being bullied. There needs to be adequate communication between school life and home life so that this type of behaviour is caught promptly and addressed.
10 Signs that Your Child is Being Bullied
Your child may be being bullied if you notice any of the following symptoms or indicators:
- Outward signs of stress or anxiety, but not wanting to tell anyone the issue
- Injuries that cannot be explained
- Clothing or personal items such as book bags, lunch boxes, etc. That are damaged without explanation
- A lack of interest, or poor performance in school
- Asking for money that cannot be explained
- Not wanting to attend school
- Becoming more aggressive toward others, lashing out, needing extra attention, or other behavioural changes
- A loss of self esteem
- Trouble with sleep
- Many reports of being too ill to attend school
While these symptoms and signs do not mean that your child is definitely being bullied, they are cause for concern and should be looked into.
Making contact with your school
If you believe your child could be being bullied, you should contact the school as soon as possible. You should hesitate to step in as you may be helping other children in addition to your own child.
If your child is adamant that he or she does not want you to contact the school, reassure your child that you will do so quietly. You may want to contact the school in a way that is less confrontational such as through an email or by phone. This way you do not have to physically go to the school, which will reduce the embarrassment for your child. That being said, the school may still request an appointment with you in person.
In most cases, schools will investigate allegations of bulling and this can take a bit of time. Other students may be questioned and written accounts may be sought. Other parents and teachers may also get involved in the process.
If your child is being bullied
- Make sure your child understand that he or she did not cause the bullying to occur, and that the bully is the one to blame.
- Tell your child to report all bullying incidents to someone of authority at the school.
- Make sure your child does not react physically as this could cause the situation to escalate.
- Inform your child that bullies so do in an effort to get a reaction. Giving any sort of response often just perpetuates the situation.
If your child is engaged in bullying behaviour
- Speak to your child in a way that is calm and shows good control of emotions
- Determine what is making your child bully. Is there something happening at home or school that is causing this behaviour?
- Explain that aggression is unacceptable
- Help your child understand how victims of bulling feel
- Teach children to respect others and tolerate differences
- Be firm and consistent with your parenting so that you child understands the consequences of this type of behaviour
You may also want to encourage your child to take up constructive activities such as clubs or sports, or one that involves showing compassion or empathy for others.
Children who have more self confidence and greater levels of self esteem are less apt to become a victim of bullying or even bully others. Be sure to establish strong self esteem in your child by providing plenty of positive feedback. Offer praise, compliments, and even rewards on a regular basis.
Parents who offer positive reinforcement instil strong values in their children and also promote a sense of responsibility. Ask your child for his or her opinion on certain issues. This type of communication creates a sense of belonging and encourages the child to think on his or her own.
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