This week saw our children return to school, with most parents giving a sigh of relief and others shedding a tear as their littlelies grow another year older.  Whilst for most kids this is an exciting event, many thousands of children dread returning to school due to having to face their bullies for yet another term.  What we do know from the research, is that Bullying will probably continue for your child, if no action is taken to address it. Many parents are unsure of the best course of action to take, so we thought we would share with you the guidelines published by The Alannah and Madeline Foundation who has made it their mission to keep children safe from violence – a mission we at The Psych Professionals whole-heartedly supports.

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1. Listen

Try to listen to the whole story without interrupting. Be empathic, calm and validate what is being said. Ask what your child would like to happen, before you make suggestions.

2. Talk

Have a conversation about what happened. Try not to make the conversation intense or you might deter your child from talking to you. Remind your child it’s normal to feel hurt, it’s never OK to be bullied, and it’s NOT their fault.

3. Find out what is happening

Note what, when and where the bullying occurred, who was involved, how often and if anybody else witnessed it. Don’t offer to confront the child or children doing the bullying or their parents yourself. You can make things worse for your child.

4. Contact the school

In preparation for discussion with your child’s school about the bullying:

  • Write down what your child told you about specific incidents of bullying.
  • Check your school’s bullying policy and the process for raising a bullying concern.
  • Make an appointment with your child’s teacher/home group coordinator, or other point of contact as specified in your school’s bullying policy and procedure.
  • Go into the school meeting with a positive expectation of working with the school as a partner in dealing with the complaint.
  • Get the school to outline how they will ensure your child’s physical safety while they are at school.
  • Be aware that the school will not disclose to you the substance of their discussions with others or what steps they have taken to monitor other children, as this would be a breach of privacy principles.

Make a follow-up appointment to check the situation is still being monitored, that positive action is continuing, and to report back your child’s sense of the situation having been addressed.

5. Give sensible advice

Encourage your child not to fight back in a physical sense, but coach them to use neutral or, if appropriate, joking language in response. Help them explore other possible responses.

  • Tell them that the bully’s behaviour was intentional – because it is.
  • Don’ tell them it will just go away – because it probably won’t.
  • Explain it’s safer to avoid people, places or situations that could expose them to further bullying.
  • If your child asks to stay home from school, explain that it won’t help – and may make things worse.
  • If possible, help to make opportunities for them to join other groups of young people – e.g. clubs at school or other groups outside of school time.

As many of us here at The Psych Professionals are parents ourselves, we know how hard it must be when you know your child is in pain.  Please feel free to see one of our team of Psychologists should you need further support in managing your own struggles or that of your child and or teenager – we are here to help.

Should you prefer to attend on-line counselling, we recommend:  www.yourpsychonline.com.

For more information on bullying, please visit:  www.amf.org.au.

Let’s work together to put an end to bullying!