Family Matters || Day of Action to say 'no way' to bulling

The 15th of March, identified as the 9th National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, has the theme: Bullying. No Way! Take action every day.

Bullying is a major problem and we know that children who are targets of bullying are more likely to experience mental health problems through into their adult lives.

The Australian Kidshelpline reports that as many as 1 in 4 Australian children are bullied and bullying is the top social concern for Australian school children.

Bullying can consist of many different things: verbal bullying (eg calling someone names, teasing, putting someone down), physical bullying (eg poking, hitting, breaking someone’s things), social bullying (eg lying, embarrassing someone, excluding someone) and cyber bullying (eg using online media to post hurtful comments, photos).

The official definition of bullying comes from the Australian Human Rights Commission: “Bullying is when people repeatedly and intentionally use words or actions against someone or a group of people to cause distress and risk to their wellbeing.

These actions are usually done by people who have more influence or power over someone else, or who want to make someone else feel less powerful or helpless.”

Those who bully others may feel jealous of their target, they may behave in a bullying manner to be accepted by others in a group or to make themselves feel better, they may be targets of bullying themselves or not realise that what they are doing is wrong.

Those who are the targets of bullying sometimes feel that it is their fault, that they are alone without help, and are confused and distressed.

These feelings lead to feelings of depression and fear.

Being nervous and scared all the time lead to heightened levels of stress which then impact on children’s ability to learn.

It is every child’s right to live free from mental, emotional and physical violence, to participate in education and to be in a safe environment whilst doing so.

We all have a responsibility to stop bullying. That means bystanders should not ignore these behaviours when they witness them.

Rather they must take action to support the rights of others. Bystanders can make sure their friends know they will not participate in bullying behaviours, and when they see bullying, step in, identify it and ask that the behaviour stops.

We can help children practice some of the things they might say and do when they see another child being bullied.

It is important that children are encouraged to report any bullying behaviour they witness (and similarly in the workplace, co-workers should take responsibility to report any bullying behaviour they witness).

It is important to support the target of the bullying: go with the person to a safe place, go with them to report the behaviour, make sure they are okay before leaving them.

Parents can struggle to know how to respond when their children tell them they are being bullied.

Parents can struggle to know how to respond when their children tell them they are being bullied.

It is important to listen calmly and reassure children they are not to blame.

Rather than imposing a solution, parents can ask what their children want them to do and together can discuss possible strategies.

Part of the learning for children in this situation is how to work through possible solutions (suggestions can be found at www.bullyingnoway.gov.au).

Parents might practice strategies with their children at home. Seek children’s permission to bring the problem to the attention of the teachers and continue to check in with children to see how things are going.

There are a range of resources available to help children:

Kids Help Line (1800 55 1800) is a free and confidential, telephone counselling service for 5 to 25 year olds in Australia. http://www.kidshelp.com.au/

Lifeline (13 11 14) is a free and confidential service  http://www.lifeline.org.au

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