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Bullying

It is important for your child to understand what bullying is and what they should do if it happens to them.

Introduction

Bullying can happen at any age. It is also important for you to recognise the signs that your child may be experiencing bullying and what you can do to support them if this happens

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Bullying can be difficult to identify and keep track of. Children can be very mean to each other sometimes. This might make the children involved angry or upset. Their feelings might get hurt.

It is not very nice when this happens once, but bullying is different. Bullying is being mean to somebody over and over again on purpose.

Bullying can include:

  • teasing, saying mean things to somebody or calling them mean names
  • ignoring somebody on purpose
  • leaving somebody out of games or activities on purpose
  • hitting or pushing somebody, or taking their things
  • posting mean or untrue things about somebody on social media

Bullying can happen face-to-face or online. Wherever it happens bullying is not okay.

There are lots of reasons why people bully others. It might because they:

  • feel jealous of the person they are bullying
  • want other people to like them more
  • feel better about themselves when they put other people down
  • feel angry inside
  • want to feel like they are in control or have power over others
  • have been bullied themselves
  • don’t know what they’re doing is wrong

No matter the reason, bullying is never okay.

Identifying the signs of bullying can be difficult, particularly if your child has difficulty with verbal communication. Signs can include things like:

  • not wanting to spend time with friends anymore
  • cuts, bruises or other injuries
  • frequently ripped clothes or damaged belongings
  • avoiding school or social situations
  • feeling more stressed, anxious, depressed
  • trouble sleeping
  • reporting aches or pains more frequently, or saying they are unwell
  • losing interest in things they usually enjoy

Ultimately, you know your child best. Think about how they usually communicate if they are unhappy.

If your child is being bullied, they should try to:

  • keep away from the bully
  • stay close to their friends or other people they trust. For example, playing near the teachers in the playground
  • tell the bully what they’re doing is not ok. This can be difficult and should only be done if your child feels safe to do so. You could role play with your child how they might do this.
  • tell someone they trust

Your child should not try to bully them back – this can make the situation worse.

It can be hard to know what to do if your child is being bullied. Bullying can be difficult for the child as well as the parent, particularly if your child is being bullied because of their disability.

A good place to start is to keep a record of any incidents you have noticed or that your child has mentioned to you. This record will help you keep track of what is happening. This record will also be helpful if you decide you want to report the bullying.

You can:

  • report bullying to the school
  • contact the Department of Education or seek legal advice if you’re not happy with the school’s response
  • contact the Police if the bullying is particularly serious
  • report cyberbullying to the E-safety Commissioner at https://www.esafety.gov.au/report/cyberbullying

If you’re unsure of what to do, speak to somebody you trust.

For additional advice or support, you can call the parent helpline in your state or territory. You can find the details here: https://raisingchildren.net.au/grown-ups/services-support/about-services-support/helplines

Conversation Starters

What did you do during lunch today? Who did you play with?
You used to talk a lot about your friend Lee at school. Are you both still friends?
That character in the movie was being quite mean to the other people. What do you think the other people should do?

Strategies for you to try

Talk to your child regularly about what is happening at school

This will help you to identify when something is worrying your child. Depending on your family, it might also be helpful to have a family discussion about what is happening at school for each child. You can also share some of your experiences from being a school student. This can help to create a safe, supportive family environment.

Support your child to identify a safe place and a safe person at school

Support your child to identify a school staff member they feel comfortable going to if they are having issues. Also support them to identify a place to go if they are being bullied. Your child’s school may recommend the office or library.

Practice social skills

Work with your child to practice ways to respond to these situations:

  • How can you tell someone you don’t like it when they do that and to stop?
  • How can you ask a different person to play if you are being left out?

Support emotional regulation

Brainstorm with your child what they might do to help them feel better if somebody has been mean to them. For example, listen to music, watch a movie, go for a walk, play with sensory items. You can put these on their ‘My Favourite Things’ poster.

Review your child’s relationships circles

Make sure your child knows who their friends are and who they can trust. If they are having issues with their friend, it might be a good opportunity to explore ways for your child to meet new people who can be their friend.

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