Bullying and your child

Bullying has recently been thrust into the spotlight for a number of reasons. This is a difficult and sometimes confronting issue for both students and parents, but it is important to talk about it.

A survey of 24,500 girls, conducted by Girl Guides Australia, revealed that more than two-thirds of girls under the age of ten have been bullied.

“The survey, conducted over the past year, revealed that bullying was of increasing concern for young women and girls, with 68 per cent aged between five and nine reporting that that they had been bullied, many of them online.” Paris Cowan, SMH, Feb 10, 2011

Whereas in the past children were often expected to tough it out, there is ample evidence that peer bullying and/or rejection left unchecked can lead to later mental health problems for young people.
Many researchers have noted the powerful effects of bystander intervention by children themselves.

“What teachers can do must be indirect. It must also seek to leverage the widespread good intentions that we have documented, so that children can be encouraged to object to bullying when the teacher is not around. We reason that once children know how their peers feel about bullying and why they think it should be stopped, there is a good chance that some of them—especially those “on the fence”— will be influenced by what they have learned... For example, children can state their disapproval of what is going on rather than getting physically involved in any fighting. And especially, they can encourage their friends to speak up and voice their opposition to the bullying. Students may rehearse what they might say when they witness bullying and—if appropriate for the group—they may even take part in role playing exercises that simulate bystander situations."
Greater Good Magazine Page 4 Playground Heroes, by Ken Rigby and Bruce Johnson.

When cyber space is used for bullying, teachers are not around. If bullying occurs via email or mobile phones, (and I know many children younger than 10 do have mobiles) parents need to support their children and follow up with the appropriate authorities. This American website looks interesting with helpful tips for parents.

Has it happened to your children? How have you managed it?

Friday March 18, 2011 is Australia's first annual, National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.

Catriona Corbett is the manager of Anglicare's Family Relationships and Early Intervention services, a former foster care worker and a mother of four.

Comments (3)

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  • Dianne Howard
    March 18, 11 - 6:37am
    Hi Catriona

    Since we are bombarded with one personal conflict after another in the media, which is not without its agendas, we need to be careful not to be manipulated into making conclusions about these stories without knowing the full context.

    I don’t think it’s loving to those involved to circulate the video, especially without proper critique, as it is likely the boy(s) will face further labelling and marginalising.

    In a climate where so much 'conflict' is categorised as 'bullying' it could be worthwhile exploring the differences between these two terms and the associated implications.

  • James Ramsay
    March 19, 11 - 8:00am
    Why do we expect children to not bully each other when bullying is common in workplaces (and even in the organisation meant to deal with workplace bullying)?

    Bullying is an effective way of establishing yourself in the social order and inducing those lower in the social order to follow your commands. With workplaces packed with mediocre management that can't do inspirational leadership, bullying isn't going anywhere.

    The issue of bullying needs to be addressed as a "natural" human behaviour, however most current programs treat it as deviant (which it isn't because it is so common).
  • Stephen Davis
    March 23, 11 - 1:25am
    I have 3 sons and I had one simple rule for them on bullying while they were at school - give the oppressor the first hit free and then anything after that, let them have it!