Hi everybody, and welcome back to Koodle's Blog. I'm Kat, a teacher and a mum of 4. In today's discussion, we'll be talking about something that is quite sensitive and I take it heart. That is bullying. At some point in our lives,we were bullied by someone. Not matter how long or short the encounter was, we were targeted to feel less than. And that is not okay. I have been bullied and it was not a great time. I was called vulgar names, chants and rhymes call out to me, and judge by people who doesn't truly know me. The worst part was nobody did anything about it and I didn't do anything about. So, with this first hand experience and becoming a teacher to even see these behaviour continues with other children; it's time to understand and acknowledge all types of bullying behaviour.
What is bullying?
Bullying basically means a misuse of power in a relationship with the intention to cause physical, psychological and social harm. It is the process of repeated harassment behaviour of verbal, physical or social abuse over a person (or people). There are many forms of bullying, here are some of them:
One on one (the bully and the victim),
A group of bullies
See the Signs and Steps to Take
Before could stop the bully from harassing your child, the teachers and the parent must find the route cause of the problem and notice the change in behaviour of the victim. Some of the signs maybe being upset, not wanting to go to school, feeling depress, lost in diet, being lethargic in their routines, becoming more antisocial, and big changes in personality. Once you see the signs, the utmost important thing to do next is to have an open communication with the child to create a safe space and build trust and honesty from both the parent and teacher. It is difficult for children to trust teachers when the teacher is aware of the situation and did nothing about it due to the motto of "Kids will be kids". This is definitely a problem that needs to be address among the teachers.
The key is communication between the parent, the teacher and the child. Being present in all conversation between as a triad intervention rather than relaying conversation between parent to child, child to parent, parent to teacher, teacher to parent etc. It is important to have the intervention without the bully being present, because with just a glare from the bully can cause problems for you child and their ability to open up.
As a teacher, there are steps to resolving the harassment without escalating the situation further. First we find out about the situation in great details, observe the behaviour taken place and see the severity of the bully's actions and the consistency, then find the solution and take actions.
When people talk about cyber bullying it doesn't seem severe in the eyes of the older generation. Cyber bullying is more than just sitting at a computer and writing mean comments. It is any and all forms of harassment by electrical means such as, SMS, messengers, direct messages, inbox, emails. Think of it like this, let say you work in an office and one of your colleague consistently sending you threatening emails and people around you say and did nothing. That's basically what your child is going through.
There has been a massive spike on cyber bullying in recent years because this type of harassment is quiet and anonymous. It is difficult to say who is the cyber bully, it could be friends or family members, friend of a friend, internet friends, strangers and many more. It is more severe psychologically and socially than most because there is no safe space to hide from, the harassment follows you home. People would say something ridiculous like "Just close the phone" and "Get off the site". I mean think about it, would you stop using your work email and office phones when someone is threatening you through it? Of course not, it is your livelihood and your right to be able to use your emails and phones without fear. Same thing applies to our children.
The most difficult thing about cyber bullying is that there are no or very minor repercussion. The anonymity of the bully gives them the power to do things without consequences because of the thought of being caught is practically not possible and when caught it's a slap on the wrist.
Why do bullies bully?
The majority of bullies, not all, act in a certain way because something is missing in their lives or there is no fulfillment in some aspect such as parents through a divorce can cause the child to be aggressive at school, having a new sibling in the family, moving around a lot, being in an unsafe and unloving home etc. Changes in their lives can also cause these behaviours for example death of a family member, a new puppy, new children in school, new children in the classroom. These can be triggers due to the dynamic changes in their lives becoming unstable or unbalance which may cause anxiety or stress and the only way to release their frustration would be through anger and victimizing others. Of course, this is not an excuse to cause harm to others. It is important to consistently talk to children about acceptable behaviour and what is not acceptable. Again the crucial thing to do is to have open communication in order to find the route of the problem to help these children. Affect before the effect; there is a reason for people to act out.
To end this blog in a lighter note, everybody can change; everybody has a chance to change; everybody has to right to be the best that they can be. We as the parents and teachers must nurture and mature both the bully and bully-ee with calm and collective solutions using open communication. In my experience having good relationship with your children or students and communicating freely with them is key to try and prevent abuse. Lead by example; children can emulate bullying behaviour like teachers excluding other teachers, mum or dad being aggressive with clerks and waiters etc. Provide guideline and follow through with your children.
If you are currently experiencing these situation or is the cause of the situation, please seek help. Talk to someone you can confide in. If possible seek professional help or your school counselor. Below I've compiled a list of links you could contact for anonymous conversation for what you are going through. Be safe and take care.