Posted in Youth issues
It’s normal for some kids not to get on with other kids or for some kids to fight with other kids, but this isn’t what we’re talking about when it comes to bullying.
Bullying is more about an abuse of power. It is when a child repeatedly intimidates, dominates or threatens another child, often with harmful effects. Bullying can involve teasing, name calling, pushing, tripping, spreading rumours, exclusion, humiliation or vilification. It can happen face-to-face, from a distance or via the internet (cyber-bullying).
Those being bullied can feel sad, feel bad about themselves, get lonely and isolated, lose interest in school, and experience mental health problems.
It’s important to do something about bullying when we find out it’s going on. Sometimes our kids see it happening, sometimes it’s happening to them and sometimes they’re the ones doing it. In each of these cases, there are things that can be done. Why is it important? Because so many people lose out when bullying takes place. Those being bullied can feel sad, feel bad about themselves, get lonely and isolated, lose interest in school, and experience mental health problems. Those that witness bullying can feel guilty or powerless, be reluctant to attend school, and also experience mental health problems. Bullies can end up being quite lonely and isolated, feel disconnected from school and leave school early, and get into increasingly serious anti-social and illegal activities down the track.
If you know a child who is being bullied then there are things that you can do to help. You can stay calm and positive, talk to them about strategies, help them develop some skills and support them in any reporting they should do. If you know a child who has witnessed bullying, you can reassure them that it’s not their fault, advise them on how to keep safe and guide them on how to access help. If you know a child who is bullying, you can help them to work out more positive ways of relating to others, encourage them to understand the impact of their behaviour on others, support them to take responsibility for their behaviour, and address the harm they have caused.
No matter what happens for kids with bullying, adults can play an important role in helping them to navigate its difficult terrain. Parents, uncles, aunties, family friends, youth leaders and chaplains are all beautifully placed to ‘be there’ as a source of support and guidance if incidents of bullying become a part their lives. If you want to prepare yourself a little then a great resource to explore is the ‘Bullying – No Way!’ website. It has resources for children, young people, parents and school staff, and is a gateway to a range of other resources as well. Visit www.bullyingnoway.gov.au. I hope this helps you to bring hope to a young person.