Categories: For Students

How to Deal with Bullies

Dealing with Bullies in the School System

In most schools there is supposed to be a zero tolerance policy in regards to bullying. When an incident of bullying is reported the schools are supposed to jump in and disarm the situation as quickly as they can. Sometimes this doesn’t happen quick enough for parents. But there are several steps that you can take to try to diffuse the situation yourself.

First of all, you may want to discuss the situation with your son or daughter. Find out who the bullies are and what prompted the latest bullying attack. Maybe nothing prompted the attack and the bully is just being themselves. But if you can discover why your son or daughter is being bullied, this can go a long way to finding solutions to the problem.

Depending on your child’s age, you may want to contact the school yourself or leave the initial contact up to your child. They may in fact not want you to get involved at this point as they might be scared of repercussions. But it would then be up to you to convince them that getting this bully to stop using any means possible really is the right solution.

If the child decides to contact the school themselves regarding this issue, then you do a follow up with them to see if they received any satisfaction. If they have not, then you must convince your child to let you step in to try to settle the matter. You could either call or visit the school and voice your concerns very loudly. Let the school know that you are now involved and you will not tolerate this kind of behaviour from any child in their system. Then give the school ample time to take care of the problem.

If they cannot or will not help you out in the matter, then it is time to go over their head to the school board or the school district. Do not let this ball drop until you or your child gets satisfaction. Sometimes it will take more than two or three trips to the school to get this situation rectified. But if the school sees that you are adamant in your stance on the zero tolerance policy, they then might decide to act a little more quickly.

No child enjoys going to school and being afraid of constant bullying while attending this school. But if they know that they can come to you and that you will get to the bottom of the situation in a timely manner then if this situation every arises again, the child will know they can count on you and quite possibly you might be able to get any of their bullying situations under control quickly.

Dealing with Bullies

Bullying in schools is nothing new. Traditionally, a child perceived as weaker or in some way different from his peers is targeted by the bully or bullies. Bullying may involve physical intimidation; excluding the victim from a recognised ‘clique’ or gang, or cyber-bullying which manifests itself as anonymous psychological abuse.

A bully seeks to control his victim often with threats of violence which are almost always realised. The target is usually more mature emotionally and more able to deal with conflict through dialogue than the bully whose level of emotional development is much less advanced. The victim believes that violence is an unacceptable means of resolving conflict; they have been taught this by their parents and teachers and perceive physical retaliation to be morally wrong. Unfortunately however, when bullying occurs parents will often contradict their own moral teachings by advising their child to answer violence with violence and to “stand up for yourself.”

Schools have a duty of care to protect their pupils from physical and emotional abuse. They cannot abdicate this by laying blame for the bullying on the victim because they didn’t stand up for themselves.

Advice for victims

You have a right not to be bullied so do not ignore it and allow the bully to go unpunished.

Bullies are weak and cowardly. This is why they crave control. Do not give the bully the satisfaction of responding to his threats or provocation. Understand that every accusation, criticism and taunt levelled at you is totally unjustified and has no foundation whatsoever. You are in no way to blame for the bully’s behaviour. This is not your fault. You may feel embarrassed, guilty and afraid. This is understandable but is just part of the strategy used by the bully to try to control you. Try not to succumb to these feelings.

As soon as you realise that you are the victim of bullying, begin keeping a diary. Make a note of every incident of abuse you suffer including times, dates, what is said to you and any physical attacks that you suffer. Keep your notes well hidden in a safe place.

Tell a parent or trusted teacher immediately. Do not suffer bullying in silence. If you feel unable to approach anyone close to you because of the bully’s threats, call a helpline: Childline (UK) 0800 1111 or Safe Schools (USA) 1-866-285-5437. Both these numbers are free to call and they will advise you on the best course of action you can take.

Advice for parents

Your children will not tell you that they are being bullied. A bully will threaten his victim with violence in order to intimidate them into remaining silent.

If you suspect that there is a problem, chat informally to your child about bullying. Explain to them how the bully thinks and why he does what he does. Reassure them that the victims of bullying are not in any way to blame and emphasise the importance of alerting someone close to them as soon as they feel that they are the victim of a bully. When your child takes the difficult step of confiding in you, agree a course of action with them before taking any actual steps.

Be alert to the signs that your child may be suffering the attentions of bullies at school. Does he suddenly try to avoid going to school? Are his clothes, books or other possessions frequently damaged excessively or missing altogether? Have you noticed a change in his demeanour; is he more secretive, not eating properly, not sleeping? Does he ask you for money with no real explanation as to what he needs it for?

Be aware that the school is legally obliged to deal with bullies and that failure to do so is effectively exposing your child to ‘degrading treatment’ and that they may therefore be prosecuted under the Human Rights Act.

Advice for teachers and schools

Make sure you are aware of how much bullying, if any, goes on in your school. Have an effective anti-bullying procedure and ensure that it is implemented properly. A preventative proactive approach to bullying is essential to stop the problem becoming established.

An inclusive climate where all pupils feel safe and supported and able to approach staff members with their concerns is essential in preventing the development of a culture of bullying. Pupils in such an environment feel empowered and able to take action against those who would seek to become bullies whereas children who feel excluded and isolated are victims waiting to happen.

Educate pupils to understand exactly what bullying is, in all its forms. Emphasise to them that such behaviour is wholly unacceptable and will not be tolerated under any circumstances, whether it takes place on school premises or outside of them.

The teaching of interpersonal skills should be integrated into lessons wherever possible. A child can learn to be assertive without being aggressive and this lesson will serve them well in the outside world as well as in the safe environment of the classroom.

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