Bullying can affect people of all ages but it is most common amongst young children and teenagers. Bullying used to be largely restricted to school; however, with advances in technology and access to the internet, cyber bullying is now a very real threat and thousands of children are now being subjected to bullying via social networking sites and via email. Bullying is every child and every parent’s worst nightmare; it can cause lifelong hurt and can cause people to feel extremely low and even suicidal.
What is bullying?
Bullying is any kind of behaviour which causes another person to feel uncomfortable or threatened; the most common examples of bullying include leaving certain people out of group activities, calling people unpleasant names and physical violence. Often it is much easier to spot physical violence than other types of bullying and many children and teenagers are afraid to take to anybody about the fact that they are being bullied because they feel embarrassed and are worried about the consequences of feeling somebody else about the bullying they are suffering. It is important to deal with bullying as early on as possible as it can spiral out of control and cause problems in later life.
What to do if you are being bullied
If you are being bullied, try to talk to somebody you trust about the situation; this may be a parent, sibling, friend or a teacher; whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence as this will only make you feel worse. If you don’t feel that you want to talk to somebody you know, you can contact charities such as Childline and Bullying UK; these charities have phone lines which you can call and discuss your situation with a trained person; you don’t need to give them your name and the information you provide them with will be kept confidential.
What to do if you think your child is being bullied
If you think your child might be being bullied you should try to talk to them about it; if they won’t talk to you try talking to their teachers at school or their friends. Keep an eye on their behaviour, especially around the times they leave for and come home from school; if they are using the internet a lot keep a close eye on which sites they are using. If you are worried that they may be being bullied on the internet, try to discuss their internet usage with them and keep the computer in a place that family members use frequently; you can also put filters on the computer to bar certain websites.
There are certain signs which you should look out for which may indicate that your child is being bullied; these include:
- Your child becoming withdrawn and quieter than usual
- Your child having difficulties sleeping
- Any sign of cuts or bruises
- A drop in performance at school
- Your child making excuses to avoid going to school
- Changes in mood
- Your child asking for replacement clothes or possessions, which may have been stolen
- Your child ‘losing’ their lunch money on a regular basis
Try to make time to listen to your child and don’t go in all guns blazing, as this may make the situation worse; your child may feel guilty and think it is their fault they are being bullied so reassure then that you are there to support them and are always free to listen to them.