Dealing with bullying

Maya Driver

Children have lots of reasons for not wanting to go to school but being afraid shouldn't be one of them. Unfortunately, there are many children who fear going to school because they are victims of bullying and very often adults around them are not aware of the problem. There are warning signs that can help you spot if your child is being bullied.

If you notice your child coming home with unexplained cuts, bruises, torn clothes or other damaged belongings they may be a victim of physical bullying. Does your child seem scared of going to school, often complain of illnesses or take an extra-long illogical route when walking to school? When they are at home watch out for signs of sadness, tearfulness, moodiness or depression. They may have trouble sleeping and bad dreams, have a loss of appetite and seem anxious and less confident than they used to be. At school they may lose interest in schoolwork or perform badly. Does you child have many friends who they play with? All these behaviours can often be attributed to being bullied. But if your child does display these signs, do not assume they are being bullied. It is important to be certain.

You can ask your child directly or indirectly if someone is bullying them. If your child will not open up to you, you can contact their teacher and find out what they have observed. But once you discover for certain, you must act quickly to resolve the bullying problem. Although your child may protest, it is important to tell the school and get them involved. By working with your school and keeping your child talking to you about what's happening to them, the bullies will hopefully be caught and dealt with.

As well as trying to stop the bullies, you can also prevent it from happening again by encouraging your child to be open about their problems, and also by increasing their circle of friends by inviting other children to your home. Teach your child to walk away from bullies if possible and not to react to their taunts, and also try to teach them confidence. And finally, get in touch with other parents from your school so you can all work together to prevent bullying.