Some 3.2 million children globally have been bullied within the past year.
If you’re a parent of a teased child, it’s easy to feel helpless and at a loss to know how to help.
But there are some scientifically proven methods to improve the situation.
Speaking to MailOnline, psychologists have revealed five steps parents should take to beat the bullies.
Experts have reveal five ways you can help your child if they are being bullied. They say you should never tell your child to hit back, and always report the issue (stock image)
FIVE WAYS TO HELP
1. Know what signs to look for when you child is being bullied
2. Understand bullying and talk to your child about it
3. Don’t hit back. This can make the situation worse
4. Report it. If the school doesn’t help, consider going to local authorities and regulators
5. Don’t let it harm their education. Home schooling is not the answer, so make sure you keep them in school so they don’t miss out.
1 – IDENTIFY THE SIGNS
You should become familiar with the signs that your child is being bullied.
They can vary, but behavioural changes, becoming withdrawn and not wanting to go to school are key warning signals, says Mark Heaton from Sheffield Hallam University, writing for The Conversation.
According to Natasha Devon, the founder of The Self-Esteem Team and the Hovernment’s Mental Health Champion for schools, other warning signs might include insomnia, claiming to have unexplained illnesses and unexplained marks or bruises which might indicate physical abuse.
They might also ask for advice in the third person, e.g. ‘My friend is being bullied, what should I do?’
Spending more time online is another key indicator, she said.
One of the most important things is not to let it harm their education. Home schooling is not the answer, psychologists claim, so make sure you keep them in school so they don’t miss out (stock image)
8 SIGNS OF BULLYING
1 – Dramatic changes in character, e.g. an outgoing child becoming withdrawn or a shy child becoming aggressive.
2 – Insomnia.
3 – Claiming to have unexplained illnesses which prevent them from going to school.
4 – Unexplained marks or bruises which might indicate physical abuse.
5 – Truanting.
6 – Wishing to avoid certain people or places.
7 – Asking for advice in the third person.
8 – Spending more time online (research indicates victims of cyber bullying are perversely driven to spend more, not less, time on social media).
2 – UNDERSTAND BULLYING
It is important to determine whether the behaviour is actually a case of bullying or whether it could be something less sinister, such as two friends falling out.
‘Discuss what is bullying and what is not. If they are bullied, it is not their fault, and they have a right not to be bullied,’ explains Professor Peter Smith from Goldsmiths, University of London.
Bullying is generally considered to entail repeated, deliberate aggression towards another individual, though Professor Mike Boulton from the University of Chester, warns that sometimes the lines may be blurred by something he calls ‘accidental’ or ‘inadvertent’ bullying, where upset may be caused without any hostile intent.
‘We don’t want to create overly sensitive young children but we think there is a middle ground where we can show them that their actions have consequences for other people,’ he explains.
3 – DON’T HIT BACK
How to respond to a bully is a hugely divisive issue, with some claiming that hitting back is the only way to go.
However, the experts say that a violent response it not advised.
‘Be assertive, without inflaming the situation,’ says Professor Boulton, adding, ‘we need to give children the skills to respond assertively’.
Experts also advise against simply ignoring a bully in the hope that they will stop.
‘One thing we knew from numerous studies is that a passive response doesn’t work at all,’ says Professor Boulton.
4 – REPORT IT
‘If the bullying is continuing or getting really serious, then make an appointment straight away to see the class teacher or head teacher,’ advises Professor Smith.
‘Make sure you have a copy of the school anti-bullying policy, [it is] a legal requirement that the school has one.
‘Explain the problem and ask how the policy is being followed in this case’.
It’s also important to let the school know that the problem isn’t simply being handed over and that you intend to follow up on the issue and attend meetings where possible.
Bullying is generally considered to entail repeated, deliberate aggression towards another individual though researchers warn that sometimes the lines may be blurred by something he calls ‘accidental’ or ‘inadvertent’ (stock image)
‘Often schools take very effective action quickly, but not always.
‘Be prepared if necessary to follow up, or take things further, for example, the governing body of the school.
‘Hopefully going further than that – OFSTED, local MP, or local newspapers – will not be necessary, but schools are accountable and do not want negative publicity.
‘Give teachers/schools a chance to sort things out, but don’t put up with continued bullying’, adds Professor Smith.
Keeping a diary of any bullying incidents is also crucial, including who did what, what was said, how often, when and where.
‘Keep a note of everything, even if outside of school grounds’ says Professor Boulton, adding ‘and don’t be tempted to tackle the parent of the bully’.
5 – DON’T LET IT HARM THEIR EDUCATION
Keeping children home from school is not the answer to bullying, say the experts.
‘We don’t want any children to lose out on their education – staying in school is in their best interest’ says Professor Boulton.
He also states that while children should be kept in school, it’s important to assure them of their safety and let them know what they can do if they are approached by a bully again.
It may be necessary to come up with some short-term strategies to avoid any further conflict, such as making sure the child and bully are kept apart during break times and lessons.
IS YOUR CHILD A BULLY? IT MAY BE YOUR FAULT
Students who are stressed out by their controlling parents tend to treat their friends in a mean way, claimed researchers in a study published earlier this year.
They even claim think that depending on the way college students respond to the stress, they will either bully people immediately, or bide their time to target a peer in a more cold and calculating way.
Jamie Abaied, assistant professor of psychological science at the University of Vermont, studied the link between ‘parental psychological control’ and young adults’ relationships their friends.
It has long been known that controlling parents trigger ‘relational aggression’ in their children.
Relational aggression involves hurting a friend or loved one’s feelings, or damaging their social status, by exclusion from a social event or backstabbing, for example.
She said that young adults may try to embarrass or ostracise a peer.