Bullying is a serious problem in British schools, with almost a quarter of students saying they have experienced some degree of bullying either online or whilst at school. It’s easy enough for a parent or teacher to wheel out the old adage ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’, but how helpful is that advice to a child facing bullying? Here we look at some of the ways you can help a child overcome bullying and see them happy and safe whilst at school.
Firstly, you need to spot the signs, because children are often too scared or ashamed to own up to being bullied. Whether you’re a teacher or parent, look out for signs a child is becoming more withdrawn. It may be that they don’t want to hang out with their friends any more, that they talk to you less frequently about how they’re getting on at school, or there may be sudden outbursts of anger as they find another way to vent their feelings.
Teachers may spot an issue in the classroom, and quietly getting children who aren’t getting on to change school desks can help ease the tension. Separating a child from their persecutor in the classroom can diffuse the situation for a while, but you also need to open a conversation with the child who is being bullied. If they can open up about what is going on, you’ll be better prepared to take the child who is doing the bullying to one side for a word. It’s important to nip things in the bud before they get out of hand, but you need to hear both sides of the argument.
Not having grown up with the internet, it’s all too easy for adults to forget what a major impact social media has on children who are experiencing bullying. In the past, the insults and violence could be left at the school gate at the end of the day, but these days the bullying can follow them home and be round the clock. You shouldn’t necessarily stop a child from using social media or limiting their screen time, but get them to talk to you about how safe they feel online and how much access other kids might have to their online profiles. It’s just as important to stay safe online as it is sat at your school desk or in the playground.