Dear Parents, Here's How To Protect Your Child From Bullies


Oh boy.

Bullying - a word that strikes fear into any parent.

LET’S GET THINGS STRAIGHT, BULLYING IS SERIOUS

Did you know, in 2015 an international study, “Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study”, found that South African Grade 5 students reported the highest occurrence of bullying out of the 49 countries surveyed. Majority of students (44%) reported being bullied weekly and 34% reported being bullied monthly.

The study also showed that students in public schools were bullied more than those in private/independent schools.

It’s noted that the study didn’t include all the countries around the world, but I think it’s safe to say the sample is big enough to draw a conclusion, in that...we have a major problem.

Even around the world there are alarming statistics.

  • 246 million children and young people experience school violence every year.

  • 30% of children never report they are being bullied.

  • Less than 10% will report it to their teacher.

THE CONSEQUENCES ARE ALARMING

Here's a list of what bullying can cause in a child...

  • Destruction of their self worth and self confidence.

  • Depression

  • Communication problems develop

  • Academically they slip

  • Anti social behaviour develops

  • Aggression develops

  • Emotional instability

  • Risk of suicide

HOW CAN I TELL IF MY CHILD IS BEING BULLIED?

It’s quite common for kids to keep quiet about being bullied. Often they might feel they should be able to stand up against the bully, and this results in silence.

Here’s some signs to look out for:

  • They don’t want to go to school (or make excuses).

  • They don’t want to drive/walk to school alone.

  • Their grades decline

  • They ask for extra pocket money because someone has “taken” their money.

  • They lose items (eg: clothing, shoes)

  • They might have torn clothing or even bruises

  • They’re abnormally more hungry after school - indicating that their lunch money or food might have been taken from them.

  • They’re showing anxiety.

  • Might have anger outbursts

  • Signs of sadness/depression.

  • They talk about suicide. “I wish I was dead”, “I wish I wasn’t born”, etc.

  • They have stomach or head-aches.

  • They withdraw.

  • Their sleep patterns change and they have frequent nightmares.

A BULLY TARGETS CHILDREN BECAUSE...

  1. They think the target is “different” - the ones they think don’t fit in.

  2. The target seems unable to do anything about being bullied. Usually a child who is being bullied displays low self confidence. The bully wants social status and to be recognised for their rebellious ways in front of their peers.

  3. They are jealous of the target.

A bully is a coward. He or she identifies those who lack self-confidence and prey on it. A bully has insecurities and usually uses aggression (physical or verbal) to try and hide their own feeling of weakness.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Let me pre-frame this by saying, no you do not tell you child to walk up to the bully and punch them in the face. As someone who grew up in an afrikaner household I can tell you that this is how I have been taught and that level of violence is not always the right way, and certainly not the first thing you advise your child to do. Back in my childhood days that might have worked, but today it can get both you and your child into trouble. Rest assured there is a manner in which to deal with this.

Remember, retaliation is not self-defense. In that circumstance your child has become an attacker and could land in hot water.