Bullying, unlike isolated conflicts between individuals, occurs when a student or group of students targets an individual repeatedly over time, using physical or psychological aggression to dominate the victim. (“Hoover & Oliver, 1996, Rigby, 1995; USDOE, 1998″.)
Bullying differs from “normal” childhood conflict in that:
The act is repeated.
There is an unfair match.
Harm is done.
-Bullies use physical, verbal, and non-verbal tactics.
-Sometimes victims are selected because they are different or perceived as vulnerable, but often there is no obvious reason.
Signs Your Child May Be Bullied (1)
-Acting moody, sullen or withdrawn.
-Not wanting to go to school; developing real or imaginary physical symptoms to avoid attending such as headache or stomachace.
-Losing interest in school work.
-Losing appetite and having difficulty sleeping.
-Arriving home with torn clothes or bruises.
-Asking for extra money for school lunch or supplies.
-Wanting to carry something to protect themselves.
(1) Source: Dr. Laura DeHaan, assistant professor of child development at North Dakota State University.
When Your Child is the Victim (2)
-Try to remain calm. Tell them it is not their fault and that they won’t have to face this on their own.
-Talk with the school principal or guidance counsellor, as well as the teacher. Alert them to the problem and work with them on solutions. When school officials know about bullying they can help stop it.
-Do not encourage your child to fight back. Confrontational situations can easily escalate and become dangerous.
-Talk with your child about what to do if the bullying happens again. Give them the language to use and practice what to do when confronted by a bully.
-Encourage your child to speak with their teacher, guidance counsellor or school administrator. This will help them to feel comfortable to ask for help when bullying happens.
When Your Child is a Bystander (2)
-Teach your child that by watching or cheering they are encouraging the bully. Bullies enjoy having an audience so it is best to walk away and tell an adult.
-Talk to your child about how a victim must feel and encourage them to include these students in their activities and groups.
-Provide your child with some phrases that might discourage the bully or stop the event from continuing.
-Encourage them to tell a “trusted adult” if they are aware of a student being bullied. This can be done in confidence to avoid possible retaliation from the bully.
When Your Child is the Bully (2)
-When you hear of or see your child being a bully do not ignore it.
-Show your child by your actions how to act respectfully and peacefully.
-Work with the school staff to design a plan to help your child change the behaviour.
-Provide opportunities for your child to interact with other children in positive settings and under adult supervision.
-Inform other adults who interact with your child of your concern about your child’s behaviour and provide suggestions for them to use.
(2) Adapted from “When Your Child is the Victim, the Bully or a Bystander”, The American Academy of Pediatrics, Washington Chapter.
What is the Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) doing to help?
-Social Skills curricula aimed at teaching pro-social skills, empathy and problem solving are being taught in many of our elementary and junior high schools. (examples are Second Step and Lions Quest)
-Teachers will be trained to recognize and de-escalate potentially violent situations and to respond to inappropriate behaviour.
-Each of our schools has a code of conduct which outlines expected student behaviours and possible consequences.
-Halifax Regional School Board has a Safe Schools Consultant to help address bullying and other issues of safe, secure and healthy schools.
-HRSB is committed to creating and maintaining environments where students are comfortable to speak about bullying.
-HRSB is continuously evaluating their policies and programs relating to bullying to determine their effectiveness.
The Bottom Line
-Bullying affects the emotional, academic and social progress of all children.
-By working together, teachers, students, parents and communities can reduce bullying in our schools and neighbourhoods.
-To stop bullying, adults must take a stand against it.
-Students need and want the help of trusted adults.
-Children who bully can change. Helping them with their behaviour at an early age is key for this change to occur.
-Talk with your child about their school, friends and relationships, even if your child is not being bullied.
-Bullying is a serious problem that negatively affects both the bullies and their victims.
-Each of us has a responsibility to help keep our schools and communities safe.
-Not all negative interactions between students is bullying. Some playful teasing and taunting between friends is socially accepted.
-Aggressive behaviour such as physical fighting is not acceptable, but may not be bullying. Bullying is the repeated victimization of someone.
Bullying Hotline 490-SAVE (7283)
Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868