Of all the trials and tribulations of parenthood, possibly one of the hardest things to deal with is knowing that your child has become the victim of a bully and deciding how to deal with this. Bullying in schools can be very hard to spot and put an end to it. Recent evidence suggests that bullying is very common in British schools. A survey by the children’s charity Kidscape found 69 percent of children aged 5 to 16 had been bullied at sometime, more than half of them repeatedly or seriously.
When occasional teasing turns into serious physical or verbal harassment, the parents often think it is their time to step in. But there is usually little they can do. Any direct involvement by parents or teachers may backfire. Bullies can become infuriated when other people get involved and try to intervene. When the victims go to a teacher or adult it usually results in the bullies treating them worse for getting them into trouble.
This can put children off getting any sort of help about any problems they are having because it would make them even more scared and insecure.
When a victim of bullying has been harassed for a long period of time it can leave them feeling self-doubting, timid, depressed and possibly emotionally scarred. Continual bullying can influence the victims to take their stress out on other things or people. The victims may eventually begin taking out their anger on younger and smaller children, or in other ways such as self-harm, stealing, anorexia or, in serious cases, suicide.
A person who is being bullied will feel unable to stop it happening. It may be carried out by a group of people or simply by one person. This bullying could involve physical abuse, threats, name-calling, or in less obvious ways such as ignoring or excluding someone. Bullying is very similar to harassment and other forms of abuse such as racism. Contrary to some belief both sexes bully and are bullied.
The reason for the bully taking their anger out on younger or more vulnerable children could be problems at home or school, or possibly as a result of being abused or bullied by other people. Bullies usually seek attention and affection and it can sometimes be very hard to reason with them, as they may be stubborn and unwilling to cooperate. The bullying should be stopped as quickly as possible as it may be harder to control if it goes further and gets more serious. Victims of bullying are usually small for their age, quiet and sensitive, the type of child who wouldn’t fight back. The victim is seldom very popular or loud. As a result of this, other children are less likely to help them or come to their defence.
School classes can be very large and it is not uncommon for bullying to occur in the classroom when teachers are present. This ‘classroom bullying’ can surprisingly be very difficult to spot, whether it is verbal or physical. Teachers can be put in an awkward position when having to make a quick decision on how to confront the bully and this is the problem that is facing them at present. In different schools across the country there are various methods in which bullying is dealt with, some more successful than others. Some of which include encouraging victims to tell a teacher or parent, punishing the bully, telling the victim to fight back or even holding a ‘bully court’ run by fellow pupils.
In my opinion bullying in schools should be tackled in the following way. One or more older, sensible members of the school should be elected as counsellors, which children can visit, in their spare time, to share any troubles and problems they are having with bullies. This confidential system enables the children to speak privately to an older and wiser member of the school and then get advice on what to do without going to a higher authority such as a teacher. The counsellors should be advised on how to recommend what to do in the victim’s situation.
This method of confronting bullying has already been put to use in a minority of schools around England. I feel that this process would be very successful and help many victims of bullying out in dealing with their problem. How the counsellors deal with the cases that come up is either up to them or could be discussed in a large group of other counsellors or even teachers and, in serious cases, victims should perhaps be recommended to go to a higher authority if unquestionably necessary.
When the Bullies are in your court, www.antibullying.net.