Here is some helpful info to tell you if your child is being bullied or if they are a bully.
Bullying is an experience all too many children and teens must endure. Hereâ€™s some signs parents might want to watch for if they suspect their child is being bullied, according to Lâ€™Arche Canada:
Symptoms a bullied child may show:
Become quiet and withdrawn at home
Talk little about school
Become more aggressive with sibling
Become moody and bad tempered
Take an unusual route to school
Seem sad whenever they arrive home from school
Come home with cuts, bruises or torn clothes
â€˜Loseâ€™ favourite clothes or possessions (the bully stole them)
Lose their appetite
Be ravenous when they arrive home from school (the bully demanded their lunch or lunch money)
Not want to go to school
Suffer insomnia or bad dreams
Stop inviting friends home and stop receiving invitations from friends
Avoid leaving the house
Seem increasingly anxious and experience headaches, stomach-aches, or other ailments
Talk about changing schools or moving
What Lâ€™Arche Canada suggests parents do if a child is being bullied:
Create opportunities for your child to talk to you. With a good, open rapport, your child will be more likely to disclose difficult problems or concerns. Encourage your child to report bullying incidents to you.
Listen attentively to your child and gather facts. Record the facts â€“ they will be needed when communicating with school personnel.
Let your child know you will be there for them and that they are not alone. Ensure they know that at home, they are loved and accepted.
Reassure your child the bullying is not their fault and they do not deserve to be bullied.
Teach a bully-proofing strategy, for example, assertiveness. (Your child should face their bully by standing tall, looking them in the eye and using a strong voice. Experts suggest using â€œI wantâ€ statements such as, â€œI WANT you to stop that!â€ or â€œI WANT you to leave me alone!â€ Help your child to understand that passivity in response to a bully, only invites further torment.
Rehearse the strategy with your child until they feel comfortable using it.
Help your child find at least one supportive, loyal friend. Welcome your childâ€™s friends into your home.
Continue to monitor the situation by asking your child frequently for up-dates.
Step in, if the situation seems dangerous or if your child continues to suffer.
Find out what policies and procedures exist at the school for dealing with bullying situations.
Report the bullying to school authorities and follow up to determine what is being done to stop it. Adults in the school environment need to be made aware of the extent of the bullying, where it happens, when it happens and its impact on your child. Only then will they be able to implement measures to protect your child and discipline the bully. Insist that they do.
Teach your child self-defence or enrol them in self-defence classes. This will increase their confidence and help them to overcome their fear.
Teach your child to know when to run â€“ it could save their life.
If your child is assaulted, inform the police.
If necessary, consider changing your childâ€™s school.
What Lâ€™Arche Canada suggests parents do if they suspect their child is a bully:
Take bullying seriously. Understand what bullying is and the harm it can do â€“ to other children as well as to your child.
Do not defend or encourage bullying behaviour or excuse it as normal.
Teach your child the importance of resolving conflict in non-aggressive ways.
Teach the values of respect, compassion and tolerance for others â€“ even for those your child might view as â€˜differentâ€™.
Donâ€™t model or condone bullying behaviour.
Eliminate physical punishment in your home. Research shows bullies are often raised in environments where physical punishment is common, thus teaching children to resolve their problems in a physical manner.
Limit your childâ€™s exposure to violent media.
Spend positive time with your child daily, keeping the lines of communication open.
Know your childâ€™s friends.
Work with your childâ€™s school as an ally to determine an appropriate course of action.
Network with other parents to stay informed.
Consider professional counseling for your child.
Bullying Myths and Facts, from Bullying.org:
Myth: â€œBullying is just a stage, a normal part of life. I went through it my kids will too. â€
Fact: Bullying is not â€œnormalâ€ or socially acceptable behaviour. We give bullies power by our acceptance of this behaviour.
Myth: â€œIf I tell someone, it will just make it worse.â€
Fact: Research shows that bullying will stop when adults in authority and peers get involved.
Myth: â€œJust stand up for yourself and hit them back.â€
Fact: While there are some times when people can be forced to defend themselves, hitting back usually makes the bullying worse and increases the risk for serious physical harm.
Myth: â€œBullying is a school problem, the teachers should handle it.â€
Fact: Bullying is a broader social problem that often happens outside of schools, on the street, at shopping centres, the local pool, summer camp and in the adult workplace.â€
Myth: â€œPeople are born bullies.â€
Fact: Bullying is a learned behaviour and behaviours can be changed.
The Canadian Safe School Networkwww.canadiansafeschools.com
December 21, 2004