We are all familiar with the term ‘bullying’ but what actual constitutes bullying? And what happens when you feel your child is being bullied or being a bully and you are not there to deal with the situation? How can you support your child through this time?
Firstly, the NSW Department of Education (2017) defines bullying as “repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons. Cyberbullying refers to bullying through information and communication technologies. Bullying can involve humiliation, domination, intimidation, victimisation and all forms of harassment including that based on sex, race, disability, homosexuality or transgender. Bullying of any form or for any reason can have long-term effects on those involved including bystanders.” It is important to note that single incidents or fights between equals are not defined as bullying.
Children who are being bullied can often show signs like not wanting to go to school or changing their route to school. They may have a decline in marks or their belongings may be damaged or missing. Mood swings, anxiety and frequent emotional outbursts may also be a sign; as are changes in their eating and sleeping patterns. If you notice these signs, it may not be due to bullying, but it is important to discuss what the cause is with your child and show them your support and understanding.
If your child is in a bullying situation it is important to report all instances to the school when they occur. Contact the school to make an appointment and work with them. The school staff and Principal have a duty of care to all students and the more information they receive in a timely manner, the more effectively they can resolve incidents.
As featured in: Glenmore Gazette, Oran Park Gazette & Emu + Leonay Gazette - October 2017
Sara Drebber is an educational consultant, teacher, writer and mother of three.