This month is National Bullying Prevention Month. As a parent, one of your worst fears is to find that your child is being bullied whether at school, outside of school or online.
Being bullied is a painful and upsetting experience for any child or adult. It can cause huge anxiety and loss of confidence.
If you are dealing with being bullied on top of living with a neurological condition such as epilepsy it can only increase feelings of loneliness, worthlessness and helplessness.
What does bullying look like?
Bullying can be direct, usually face to face or indirectly with the bully systematically undermining the victim’s reputation by spreading rumours or malicious gossip with the intent of ruining the victim’s social standing. It can also be online on social media.
Bullying can include:
- Name calling
- Saying or writing mean things
- Being mean and nasty
- Making offensive comments
- Physical assault
- Taking or damaging belongings
- Gossiping and spreading hurtful and untruthful rumours
- Leaving people out of games
- People blocking your way
- Being disrespectful
- Using rude words that can make people sad
- Getting angry
- Threatening body language
All schools in the UK have a duty to make sure your child is safe. If they don’t take reasonable action when they know a child is being bullied, they are failing in their duty of care.
Schools are also legally required to have an anti-bullying policy which should make it clear how to report episodes of bullying.
Signs that your child may be a victim of bullying
Many children are reluctant to tell an adult they are being bullied because they fear it will make the situation worse.
However, there are sometimes some signs that your child may be being bullied:
- Your child is reluctant to go to school
- Your child’s performance level at school may drop
- They may become unusually moody, withdrawn, or aggressive
- They may get home from school later than usual because of taking a different route home to avoid the bullies.
- Money may go missing from the house to pay off bullies.
- Your child may give monosyllabic answers when you ask them about school.
- May behave differently from usual.
- Your child may have injuries that can’t be explained.
Explain to your child that if they are deliberately being made unhappy by other people’s actions, they are being bullied.
Try to persuade them that nothing will change unless they are prepared to talk about it.
If the bullying is happening at school, reassure them it’s the teacher’s job to stop it. Make sure you let their teacher know and how they plan to deal with the situation.
Make sure you praise your child for speaking up, and explain they’re not grassing or telling tales, but showing incredible amounts of bravery and courage.
Also, tell your child that by telling you what has happened to them, something can be done about it, and they are helping to prevent other children experiencing the same.
If you believe your child is being bullied there is the National Anti-Bullying helpline that can provide further advice and support. They can be contacted on 0300 323 0169.