It is easy to dismiss the effects of bullying if you or your children haven’t directly experienced it. But the fact remains that it is likely to be present wherever there are groups of people and schools are no exception. Some children end up leaving school because of it.
According to the Bullying UK website, (a go-to place for valuable advice) nearly half of all children are involved in bullying at some point – an alarming statistic. But not only as victims; it can also be through witnessing it or being the perpetrator.
Although bullying in school is a common reason why families turn to home education, it’s not just limited to classrooms. It happens wherever there are groups, clubs, classes, sports activities or other similar clusters of youngsters, both physical and online. And sadly in families.
For it isn’t just bullying between children that is of issue. It also appears that youngsters witness it regularly between adults according to a recent survey and this can impact on its perpetuation. Because the behaviour of the important adults around them influences how youngsters behave.
We probably rarely consider whether we’re inadvertently making a contribution towards a bullying culture. It’s shocking to discover that your child may be a victim of bullying, but even more so to discover your child might be bullying someone else. But do we ever examine how much bullying might have crept into our own approach towards the youngsters we’re responsible for?
It can be quite subversive between some teachers and learners (unpleasant sarcasm or name calling is an example). And as parents we’ve perhaps all resorted to bullying tactics, sometimes out of desperate concern to get kids to comply with our wishes; perhaps eating their meals, coming off the computer, or doing their work, for example, but still inappropriate. We may also be less than respectful to other adults.
And the youngsters are aware of it. They want to see the adults around them showing respect towards one another as much as towards them, as the survey reported. And it is this example of tolerance, empathy, kindness and compassion that sets an example of non-bullying culture.
So, perhaps as parents and educators, we should take this on board.
Following are five things to think about which could help us do this.
- Examine the way in which we relate to the youngsters around us to make sure bullying is not part of our own behaviour – especially the subversive kind!
- That also goes for the way we relate to other adults in our circles.
- Open discussions about bullying, what constitutes bullying – physical, emotional, virtual, and what to do about it.
- Always make time to listen to what our youngsters are telling us and take what they say seriously, whether victim, witness or perpetrator.
- Demonstrate a no-nonsense intolerance to bullying of any sort through our behaviour and respect for others – whatever age they are.