Are you certain your child is not a victim of bullying in school? Take a second look and observe your son or daughter and how he/she relates to you about her school experiences. Most often than not, children who experienced bullying are afraid to tell they are victims of it. They are scared that their parents would go and rush to their school and create an unbecoming scene or probably confront the perpetrators. As much as possible, they hide the experience and try to contain the embarrassment and torture to themselves. Some may get over the trauma and terror after some time, but many decide to stop and avoid going to school. The latter is a consequence that is most worrying, because parents might think their children have began to indulge in misdemeanours. Look again and find out.
My children are still young. In fact, my eldest is just nearly three years and I don’t think there is bullying in the nursery amongst his friends at his age. But I have been working in school for almost fifteen years and in this span of time, I have a first hand experience and knowledge to the issues of bullying inside the campus. Bullying is everywhere. You can have it even in colleges and universities. More concerning though is bullying in secondary schools where students are vulnerable and less confident to report matters immediately to authorities. As a college instructor for eleven years, I was privileged to meet students who shared their experience of some sort of harassment and what they did to stop culprits from doing it over again. There were some though who resorted the easy way by moving to other schools and did not bother to give offenders a lesson. That might be an immediate and less complicated solution, but the absconding attitude does not help to get rid of the root problem.
Working in one of the most diverse school communities in England where a higher percentage of students are Asians and other European ancestry, I have observed senior students who have the bent to bully younger pupils. What is brilliant in our school is that the policy on Anti-bullying is very serious; it includes essential guidelines about how and where to report it in the campus. The policy even covers bullying over the cyber world. Yet, not all students are interested to take this matter into proper attention. Even in the most secure school, bullying still find ground to beat up helpless victims.
So how do you know that someone or your child is bullied in school? But before anything else, take time to read issues about bullying and the corresponding resolutions to known cases. It is better to equip one self about the ‘ins and outs’ of the matter in order to explain it credibly to your child.
Common sense would tell parents to look for signs that your sons or daughters suffered bullying. Like what I mentioned, many children would not complain that they are bullied in school, but perhaps you would notice that their desire to go to school or join activities and campus clubs has changed and deteriorating. You should start to wonder why they become strangely aloof. Take your child’s distress earnestly and do not wait the issue to blow out of proportion. The earlier you will find it, the better because the need to prevent further damage is very important.
You may start to assess the situation if you sense it has gone so disquieting. Talk to your child calmly and find out if the bullying has gone physical, and if he is threatened with physical harm, you need to report it to the school authorities for an appropriate attention. Some school staffs are not too willing to entertain complains over the phone, so if you can visit he school and insist to them that your child needs the necessary protection, they would surely be alarmed about the gravity of the issue. If possible, you make your notification in ‘black and white’ and keep a record for yourself.
If your child complained about less serious bullying, you don’ have to be so complacent about it too. Violence starts from simple, unresolved difference. Talk to your child about how to cope with minimal harassment, brainstorm ways to deal with it and help your child make a plan to work it out. Advance the self-esteem of your child by giving him enough space and respect to manage affairs that you know he is capable at. You have to emphasize that bullying comes from a bully’s very poor self-esteem and such anti-social behaviour is a meaningful escape of such struggle. To further boost the confidence of your child, you also have to stress that bullies are generally cowards and they only hunt upon easy preys.
Aside from the more psychosomatic strategies, it may also work if you would enrol your son/daughter in martial arts classes or sports to develop the science of self defence. By saying that, it does not mean you have to encourage your child to fight back or challenge bullies to a brawl, it is just to assure that when bullying becomes physical, your child could protect himself before someone arrives to intervene.