Putting an end to bullying among kids!
I was bullied at school when I was young. I was lucky enough to have a twin sister, so I didn’t feel completely alone. It was an unpleasant experience, but I learned some important lessons, and I’m glad that today I can speak about ways to put an end to it. As a mom, I never want my child to face bullying or be a bully himself.
RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS OF BULLYING
Bullying can take many forms: social, physical, discriminatory, psychological and cyber. They all have one thing in common, however: the person doing the bullying acts out of a sense of power. In my case, I was bullied because I was a twin!
All kids are at risk of being a victim of bullying or being a bully themselves. It’s essential for parents to start a conversation with their kids so they know right away if their child is being bullied and can act to stop it. This conversation needs to include making our kids aware of the problem and encouraging them to speak out against it while impressing on them the importance of respecting one’s peers.
The more a child trusts their parents, the easier it will be for them to open up. If your child shows signs of being bullied – reluctant to go to school, grades drop, closes up and is having a hard time – question them until you uncover the problem.
WHAT TO DO WHEN BULLYING OCCURS
Discussion between parent and child is always the first step in addressing an instance of bullying. It is then strongly recommended to report it to the school’s administration, with concrete examples (ideally the date, time and details). Several schools adhere to a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying. As this was true of my school, I spoke to the principal, who then took the necessary steps with the parents and children involved.
When bullying occurs, it is important to try and stop the cycle of violence at its source. Your child may then need to rebuild their self-esteem. Some schools offer support services, which can be a very useful option, especially since only a few sessions with a psychologist are sometimes all it takes to undo the damage.
IF YOUR CHILD IS THE BULLY
If you notice that your child is bullying others, it is as just as important to act. They must understand that inequality and disrespect are not funny, and that bullying can have a serious negative effect on those on the receiving end. Talk to them about the consequences they may have to face because of their behaviour to make them grasp what is at stake. Finally, keep an eye on your child’s friends and environment. Kids often mimic what they themselves see.
When I was young, bullying was not really talked about. Today, kids are lucky, as we've become much more aware of the issue. It’s up to us parents to help change things and clearly denounce bullying, so that bullying and being bullied are no longer considered a normal part of growing up.