What’s the difference between playground banter and serious bullying? How can you help your child if you think they are being bullied? We can help you deal with bullying head on.
Two of the main reasons people are bullied are because of their appearance and social status. Bullies pick on the people they think don’t fit in, maybe because of how they look, how they act, their race or religion, or because the bullies have opinions about the victim’s sexual orientation.
Some bullies attack their targets physically, which can mean anything from shoving or tripping to punching or hitting. Others use verbal insults to put themselves in charge which can be just as damaging to your teenager. Some teens even report that the verbal abuse is worse than the physical, and in certain cases bullying can be life threatening.
What to look out for
Often young people are embarrassed to admit that they are being bullied and they may not tell you or another adult right away. They might underplay the bullying because they're worried that reporting it will make it worse. Even if your teen doesn’t turn to you for help, you can watch for these warning signs that he or she is being bullied.
Teens who are bullied often experience:
- Reluctance to go to school
- A loss of friends
- A drop in grades
- A loss of interest in activities he or she previously enjoyed
- A change in behaviour at home
- Feigning illness
- Torn clothing
- A need for extra money or supplies
How you can help
If your teen comes to you and asks for help with a bully the most important thing is to take them seriously. If teens aren’t taken seriously the first time they ask for help, it’s unlikely they’ll ask again.
If you think your teen is being bullied you can help. Parents are often the best resource to build a teen’s self-confidence and teach him or her how to solve problems.
Here are a few ways you can help:
- Talk to your teen’s teacher about it instead of confronting the bully’s parents. If the teacher doesn’t act to stop the bullying, talk to the headteacher or pastoral officer.
- Teach your teen non-violent ways to deal with bullies such as walking away, playing with friends or talking it out.
- Help your teen to act with self-confidence. Practice walking upright, looking people in the eye and speaking clearly together.
- Don’t encourage your teen to fight. This could lead to him or her getting hurt, getting in trouble and setting off more serious problems with the bully.
- Involve your teen in activities outside of school such as a sports club or youth club. This way he or she can make friends in a different social circle and build their self esteem.
- If the bullying is really serious and includes physical assault, damage to property or stealing from your child you may want to get the police involved.
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