Anti-Bullying Week 16-20 November 2020
In my work as a psychotherapeutic counsellor I have met many clients who suffered terribly at the hands of bullies. This all too familiar story compelled me to write a short blog during anti-bullying week, on behalf of the brave who struggled and for those feeling the agony of bullying now. For the most part bullying is thought of a children’s issue centred around school, but bullying can occur almost anywhere in various forms such as in the workplace, home and in social environments.
For the purpose of this blog I will be focussing on the bullying of children.
Bullying is categorically not acceptable in any shape or form, yet still it continues, and now it doesn’t stop at the school gates as it did when I was at school, it seeps into home life via social media and texts.
I have witnessed first-hand how psychologically damaging the effects of bullying are on developing children and adolescents, and how as adults, bullying affects the way the sufferer forms future relationships, their self-esteem, their levels of anxiety and depression and issues around trust to name but a few. If left unattended to, the effects of bullying can in some cases, lead to self-harm and even suicide. A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. A sobering statistic.
So, why do bullies bully?
Having an understanding of why people bully others can be useful when looking at the bigger picture. I am by no means condoning these reasons.
· A bully has often been bullied themselves so they see their actions as an act of revenge or payback.
· Many bullies are reacting to a lack of attention or control at home.
· Some bullies use the act of bullying to cover up a feeling of weakness or lack of belonging.
· Peer pressure from other children to maintain hierarchy in school.
Some of the effects of bullying..
· Feeling alone, that no one can help them
· Feeling hopeless, that they have no control over what is happening
· Feeling unsafe
· Feeling guilt and shame, like somehow it is their fault
· Feeling a sense of rejection
How can we as parents educate our children on the cause and effect of bullying?
· By talking about it, having an open dialogue about the truth of what is going on, not just with them, but in society in general. Have they ever witnessed bullying? How did it make them feel? Share your stories with them, bullying is real and needs to be discussed without any blame or shame.
What can we as parents do to support our suffering child?
· Take what your child is telling you seriously and reassure them that together, you will work out the best course of action.
· Praise your child for telling you what he/she was experienced.
· Report any incident to the school immediately, even if you don’t believe anything will be done. All schools have an anti-bullying policy and are legally bound to act accordingly.
· Talk to the bully’s parents in an open and non-threatening way, leading by example.
If you suspect your child is bullying someone, please do not ignore it, take action!
National Bullying Helpline is open Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm. Call 0300 323 0169 OR 0845 2255787.