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BULLYING, AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR AND HARASSMENT AMONGST YOUNG PEOPLE IN SCHOOLS: WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
Topics of Discussion 1 – What is School Bullying? 2 – Types of Bullying 3 – Why Parents are so Important 4 – Signs and Symptoms of Being Bullied 5 – What To Do If Your Child / Teenager is Being Bullied 6 – What To Do If Your Child / Teenager is Bullying Others 7A – Working With Your Child’s / Teenager’s School Against Bullying (1): What you and your child / teenager will want and need to know 7B – Working With You Child’s / Teenager’s School Against Bullying (2): Parent-school collaboration against bullying behaviour 8 – Questions and Answers Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
1 – What is School Bullying? Bullying is a form of aggressive behaviour that is conducted by a young person or group of young people, on systematic and ongoing basis, against a young person who is singles out, and it relatively unable to defend himself or herself. It is not bullying, for instance, when young people of around the same age and level of physical / social power have the occasional fight or quarrel. Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
2 – Types of Bullying Direct Bullying Verbal Bullying Physical Bullying Gesture Bullying Extortion E-Bullying Indirect Bullying Girls and boys tend to be involved to different extents in the various types of bullying behaviour Labelling someone as a ‘bully’ is not helpful. Instead of using the ‘blame/punishment’ approach, we advocate challenging and changing the inappropriate behaviour Young people who are involved in bullying, aggressive behaviour and harassment as either victims or perpetrators (or in some cases, both), need the help and intervention of both parents and school personnel. Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
3 – Why Parents are so Important Parents are the biggest single influence on their children’s attitudes and behaviour. Every responsible parent is concerned for the protection, safety and well-being of his or her child / teenager. Along with school personnel, parents have a responsibility to ensure that their children / teenagers are not involved in bullying or harassing other school students Research shows the bullied young people are reluctant to tell their parents or their teachers that they have been bullied at school. However, when they do tell someone, they are more likely to tell their parents than their teachers. Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
4 – Signs and Symptoms of Being Bullied The young person looks distressed or anxious, and yet refuses to say what is wrong Unexplained cuts and bruises Damage to clothes, books and school equipment Doing worse at school than before Requests for extra money Reluctance to go to school Changes in mood and behaviour Lacking in confidence or self-esteem Complaints of headaches and stomach aches Problems sleeping Unfortunately, this is not a fail-proof checklist. The presence of some of these things, or even all of the, doesn’t necessarily meant that the young person is being bullying. However, if these signs and symptoms persist, parents should investigate the matter further. Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
5 – What To Do If Your Child / Teenager Is Being Bullied Finding out what’s wrong It is not easy for young people to tell their parents that they have been victimised. Let the young person know that you are there for him of her. Be prepared to both listen and talk, but to listen more! Reassure your child / teenager that the bully has the problem Tell them not to fight back physically! Teaching coping skills Explain to the bullied young person that bullies want an upset reaction. Humour, silence, or an assertive response – i.e., standing up for oneself in a non- aggressive way – may well prevent a further attack Teaching coping skills at home The Importance of Self-Esteem Young people who are bullied can so easily lose their confidence, which will affect their sense of self-worth. The more often one is bullied, the lower will be the level of one’s self-esteem Ideas for building self-esteem at home Report the Problem (see slide 7A) Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
6 – What To Do If Your Child / Teenager Is Bullying Others Awareness of what bullying is Be a good role model Finding out what’s wrong The importance of self-esteem Perpetrators of bullying have lowered levels of self-esteem; the more often one bullies others, the lower is one’s level of self- esteem Bullying others can, then, be seen as a misguided attempt to gain self-esteem (perhaps in the form of peer recognition) Some young people are involved in bullying behaviour as both perpetrators and victims (bully-victims) - they have the lowest levels of self-esteem of all Teaching empathy at home Teaching respect for difference at home Letting off steam in a positive way Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
7A – Working With Your Child’s / Teenager’s School Against Bullying (1) What you and your child / teenager will want and need to know The young person may beg or plead with the parent not to tell Sometimes the young person needs to be over-rules, but we have to be sure that what we are doing really is in his or her best interests We must be sure that the school can and will handle the matter in a sensitive and responsible way The incident will be treated in a sensitive manner, and that confidentiality will be kept as far as is possible Your child / teenager will be safeguarded, as far as it is possible, against further incidents of bullying behaviour You as a parent will be kept informed about the progress of this case Parents should of course be aware that investigating an allegation of bullying behaviour in a sensitive and thorough manner many well be time consuming Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
7B – Working With Your Child’s / Teenager School Against Bullying (2) Parent-school collaboration against bullying behaviour Many schools have a Parents’ Council, or Parents’-Teachers’ Association Parents should be consulted on matters of school planning, and the drafting of new or revised school policy / codes Parents’ organisations can themselves fund and source guest speakers for information evenings, and co-fund or partake in ongoing preventative measures against bullying behaviour – ‘Anti-Bullying Weeks’, and so on Parents can, and indeed should, organise themselves if necessary, to ensure that their local communities are ‘bully-free’. Teachers and parents should be on the ‘same side of the fence’: an alliance of responsible, caring adults with the common aim of preventing and countering bullying, aggressive behaviour and harassment amongst young people in schools Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
THANKS FOR LISTENING! ANY QUESTIONS? Dealing with Bullying in Schools © SAGE, 2004
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