By Quek Li Koon
Bullying is an unwanted, aggressive behaviour that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The bullying behaviour is often repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over a period of time. Those who are bullied can be affected badly and its effect can be serious and lasting.
Anyone can be bullied. Children who seem quiet, less aggressive, smaller in size than their friends and those with disabilities may tend to get bullied more.
Bullying by others can include:
- hitting and pushing
- using of threats
- intimidation over the internet and handphone
- taking away of things and money
- spoiling things
- spreading of rumours and unkind teasing
- leaving your child out of activities deliberately
- asking others not to be your child’s friend
- saying words that hurt or make your child feel ashamed or embarrassed etc.
As a parent or carer,
- Educate your child on what bullying is, what to do when he or she is bullied and not to be a bully or a bystander if he or she witnesses others being bullied.
- Teach your child to never keep quiet when they are under threats of keeping secrets and doing things that will endanger or harm himself or herself or others in any way. Your child is to let you and trusted adults know what is happening.
If your child is being bullied,
- Assure your child that you will be careful and prudent if he or she is worried that telling you will make situations worse.
- Suggest that your child get help and speak to someone such as his or her teacher, school counsellor etc., or let him or her know that you will speak to someone if he or she is bullied in school.
- If you plan to speak to someone in school, plan when, with whom and what you will be saying before going to school. Remain calm and manage your own emotions.
- Tell your child not to give up when situations do not get sorted out right away. Let your child know that bullying is not right and the school will look into the matter.
- Teach your child not to show the bullies that he or she is afraid of them or that he or she is very affected by them.
- Where possible, teach your child to ignore what bullies say and talk to safe persons later regarding his or her feelings and thoughts.
- Use role plays and discussions of different scenarios to teach your child how to behave or what to say to bullies, and the next steps he or she can take.
- Advise your child to stay with a crowd as bullies tend to pick on children who are on their own. For example, when going to the toilet, your child is to use the toilet when there are others around or go with trusted friends.
- Encourage your child to keep a diary and write down what happens each time he or she is bullied, and when and where it happens. This information can be given to you and those who are helping him or her.
- If your child is bullied through the messages or pictures sent to his or her handphone or laptop, your child is to show you what had been sent. A print screen copy can also be saved and shown to you and trusted adults who can help your child deal with the bullying.
- Educate your child that bullying acts need to be stopped, and the bullies themselves will need help to stop their negative behaviours.
- Engage your child in activities, communities and friends that will build up his/her self-esteem and resilience.
- Help your child to recover from the negative impact of bullying and direct your child to focus on positive aspects of life.