There are two moments that a parent dreads when it comes to bullying of any kind. The 1st is when your child is being bullied, the 2nd is when you realise your child is the bully.
In this post we will deal with the first scenario.
As a pre-teen I was bullied over a period of four years. It was a time where big boys don’t cry and “suck it up, it wont last forever.” I already felt disempowered by the bullying and the thought that if I reported the bullies, it would just get worse was very much my reality. The greater reality is that the bullying affected me for the rest of my life. The trauma I experienced has affected the way I see myself and the way I have dealt with conflict situations. Fortunately thanks to the miracle of neuroplasticity even in my mid-40s I can work at changing some of what has been part of me for so long.
The point of my story is that the pain and trauma of bullying can have long term negative effects on a life. If your child is being bullied it is not enough to just deal with the bully, but also to restore the victim.
What do the victims of bullying need?
Bullying is primarily an emotional experience. And that is the primary support they will need. There are however some other practical steps that should be followed to protect them.
- A safe person to share what is happening in their life. A safe person is someone who will believe them, not judge them, and will support them.
- Someone to process their trauma or pain with.
- If possible, some form of meditated engagement with the bully whereby the bully can hear what their actions have done. This is not always possible in the case of cyber bullying as the bully may not always be known to the victim or in the same location.
- Affirmation of their value and worth.
How can you know that your child is a victim of bullying?
Nothing can beat being an engaged, involved and interested parent. Building a trusting and safe relationship whereby your child feels that you are safe to share what they are experiencing in their life with you is the first and best way to know what is happening in their life.
However, especially with the private nature of devices and the internet, even such a relationship may not always reveal what is happening online. Here are some signs to look out for.
Signs that your child might be experiencing bullying.
- Being upset or unusually quiet following use of the phone or Internet.
- Emotional withdrawal.
- Being secretive or protective of a device.
- Sudden disinterest in social activities or sport.
- Reluctance to go to school.
- Slipping in grades or lack of focus on study.
- Changes in mood, behaviour, sleep, or appetite.
- An increased susceptibility to illness; this could be real or used as an excuse to avoid the source of the bullying.
- Sudden withdrawal and dislike of social media.
- Nervous behaviour when getting an instant message, text, or email.
- Avoiding discussions on bullying.
Practical steps to prevent further cyberbullying and to protect your child.
- Stop all communication with the bully. The bully thrives on responses, so disengage from them.
- Prevent access. This may mean blocking numbers, changing security settings on social-media platforms, or reporting email addresses.
- Keep screenshots. While it is hurtful to revisit the messages, it is important to keep evidence if further action is going to be taken with higher authorities, parents, teachers, headmasters, community leaders, or the police.
- Make sure the child is physically safe. If the cyber-bully is an adult or stranger that knows the home, school or activity locations of the child, they may be a physical threat. Depending on the nature of the harassment and who the bully is, a case may need to be made to local police.
Be engaged, involved, and interested in your child’s life, reality, and cyber-reality.
Be aware of the apps they use, who they follow and who follows them.
Have device free zones and times. Most cyberbullying happens after 10pm at night. Rather make bedtimes and bedrooms device free spaces.
If you need assistance with settings for your children’s devices or installation of monitoring software that both protects their privacy but notifies you when there are dangerous phrases or words appearing in chats, contact TeachBear.Online and we can tailor a solution for you.
Helpful contacts and resources:
Techbear.online has some incredible partners that can assist with counselling and directing you to the correct authorities. For more details visit our Partners Page