Bullying is something we all worry about when dropping our kids off each day at school, and it’s completely normal – As parents we have a right to worry about our children’s happiness. Bullying runs rampant in the schoolyard and it’s not something any of us want our kids to be exposed to.
With the rise of social media and online communications apps, however, it’s become easier than ever for teasing and bullying to be elevated and transferred to your child’s screens. Now, we’re not telling you to be a helicopter parent, but this is certainly an important topic to understand as your kids grow up. Knowing the signs, what to do and how to act in tricky situations can help your child in the long run.
Bullying can have very harmful effects on young people, including significant mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, prevalent feelings of loneliness and decreased motivation to do well in school.
The definition of bullying for Australian Schools explains the concept as:
“… An ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening.”
Even with all the educational resources on bullying and teachers explaining why it’s such a negative thing in the classroom, the truth is that bullying is still prevalent for many people growing up. One in four (27%) Year 4 to Year 9 Australian students have reported being bullied every few weeks. One in five students get bullied online, which may slowly start to rise with the increase of technology used in school curriculums.
There are many different types of bullying and these can affect your kids in different ways. They can occur within a combination of these categories:
As a parent, it’s our job to recognise and understand some of the warning signs that might indicate bullying. Less than half of bullying incidents are actually reported to parents by their kids, so recognising the signs can be beneficial for if your child doesn’t want to talk about it or admit it’s happening. These are some ways you can recognise if your child is either being bullied, or bullying another person. If you notice more than a few of these signs in your child, it might mean it’s time to have a serious conversation about whether something is going on.
Cyberbullying is a more recent development in the world of nastiness, and it involves using technology to repeatedly bully, hurt and coerce others online. Sending spiteful messages continuously, harassing others online, humiliating people through posts, videos or images, or even making fake profiles to talk to someone online are all forms of cyberbullying.
It can be particularly hurtful to our kids since online content spreads so quickly on social media platforms. Before you even know it, an embarrassing post can be seen by dozens of people in just a few minutes. Imagine if someone posted an embarrassing photos or mean statuses about your child online, for everyone to see – how would you feel as a parent?
Taking action against cyber-bullying can be difficult, but here are some of the ways your child can protect themselves if they are being cyber-bullying:
Cyberbullying happens most often on social media. (Source)
It’s necessary to teach your kids not only to understand cyberbullying, but to be prepared for any form of bullying. Having open conversations with your child about whether they are being bullied, understanding what it is, and what behaviour is or is not acceptable is key. Teaching them the importance of reacting properly to threatening behaviour and what to do is also beneficial. Talk to your kids about:
Although we all hope this isn’t the case, the reality is that with each bullied child comes a bully to hurt them. It’s not something we’d like to learn about our kids, but if you find your child is a bully it’s essential to rectify their behaviour before it becomes more common.
Here are some of the signs and risk factors of whether your child might be bullying other children:
If you’re worried your child is bullying others, communication is the key to confirming it. These signs could relate other issues as well, so talking to them can help clarify what’s wrong. Finding out why they are bullying and reinforcing that the behaviour is not okay is the next step. Asking questions like ‘how would you feel if someone said that to you?’ can help get the message across. Finding out why your child might be bullying others is also important.
Some common reasons include:
Taking action immediately and teaching them the correct behaviour is the best thing you can do. This can be done by being a good role-model to your children and raising their self-esteem. Giving your child positive attention, like encouraging them to try new things and being supportive of their achievements can go a long way in raising their self-esteem.
Obviously, punishment or discipline is necessary as well to teach children that bullying is a bad thing. If your child has been bullying other children, setting limits, temporary bans and consequences are effective ways to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
You can combat cyberbullying or help prevent it from happening with our parental control app, FamilyEye. With the ability to check internet usage and filter inappropriate websites and apps, you can ensure your child’s time online is safe and sound. Try it for free here.