Bullying is a persistent and serious issue in many schools. In fact, it is believed that at least 30 percent of students become bullies or victims of bullying. Bullying is an aggressive activity, due to imbalance of power and specific repetitive behaviour patterns. Bullying can be physical and verbal. It can also be exclusive in nature by ignoring someone or indirect, by spreading false rumors about someone. Regardless of the case, bullying can cause low self esteem, depression, poor grades at school and some cases, suicidal thoughts. It is important for school administrators to be more sensitive and responsive to any report of bullying. It is important to make sure that students can cope with bullying and the sources of bullying are addressed immediately. For parents, it is important to think carefully before reacting. Parents may instinctively jump to action to the first report of bullying.
It’s natural for parents to immediately protect their children from any threat. However, they need to keep their emotion reactions in check. Confronting bullies harshly and directly could backfire, inciting bullies to intensify their attacks on victims. Listening will always help, because many bullying victims may feel isolated. Empathy should help in reducing frustration and pain. Children should know what’s happening and parents should show children what to do in specific situations. When children have problem articulating their feelings and experience, parents should see it as an indication of problem. Parents should determine the seriousness of the bullying and whether the behaviour of children is affected. As an example, children could be afraid to go to school and they have problem concentrating. If parents have problem communicating with children, counsellors and teachers may help in assessing the situation.
Other than dealing with bullies, it’s actually more important to empower your children. Even if a bully is dealt with permanently, there’s no guarantee that bullying will stop. Other bullies may appear at other times. Parents should tell children what to say and not say when they are in a bullying situation. Children should also know to find out about danger zones, so they can avoid it or be prepared if they need to stay. Children should be taught to tolerate a comment or argument. In many situations, bullying is just verbal and it’s simply the game of wit. In any situation, children should remain calm and if possible, shift the power balance. Parents and children should work together to form strategies on how to confront with bullies. As an example, some victims of bullying find it useful to visualize an invisible wall between them and bullies. They can envision that words just bounce of the wall and hardly affect them.
Tell children that it is better to do something, such as reading a book, talking with a friend or simply daydreaming than listening to bullies. Parents and children could also role-play the situation. Children could pretend to act and think like bullies. Children should gain the understanding and react properly to the situation.