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Bullying: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help


What is Bullying?

Bullying can mean different things, including actions, which some adults may dismiss as trivial or unimportant. It is estimated that as many as one in four children in primary schools and one in ten children in secondary schools are bullied. Bullying includes:

  • Physical - pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching and other forms of violence or threats
  • Verbal - name calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, persistent teasing
  • Emotional - excluding (sending to Coventry), tormenting, ridicule, humiliation
  • Racist - racial taunts, graffiti, gestures
  • Sexual - Unwanted physical contact or abusive comments

Emotional bullying, like ridicule and exclusion, seems to be more common than physical violence. It can also be the most difficult type of bullying to cope with or prove. Bullying can happen at school, in the playground, or in the classroom. Children can also be bullied to and from school, on the bus, or walking home. There are "no natural victims". Anyone can be subjected to bullying. Children are often bullied for no obvious reason.

The Effects of Bullying

Bullying hurts, it is distressing and frightening. Children can become isolated and lonely. Over a period of time children's self esteem can be affected. They may begin to feel demoralised and powerless to stop the bullying. Bullied children may feel that it is their fault and there must be something wrong with them.

Persistent bullying can result in:

  • Depression
  • Low self esteem
  • Shyness
  • Poor academic achievement
  • Isolation
  • Threatened or attempted suicide

Possible Signs of Bullying

A child may indicate by their behaviour that he/she is being bullied. If your child shows some of the following signs bullying may be responsible and you might want to ask if someone is bullying or threatening them.

Children may:

  • Be frightened of walking to and from school
  • Not want to go on the school bus
  • Be unwilling to go to school
  • Beg you to drive them to school
  • Feel ill in the mornings
  • Begin truanting
  • Fail to achieve their expected grades
  • Come home regularly with clothes or books destroyed
  • Come home starving (bully taking dinner money)
  • Become withdrawn, lack confidence
  • Become distressed and anxious, stop eating
  • Attempt or threaten suicide
  • Cry themselves to sleep
  • Have nightmares
  • Have their possessions go missing
  • Ask for money or start stealing (to pay the bully)
  • Continually lose their pocket money
  • Refuse to talk about what is wrong
  • Have unexplained bruises, cuts, or scratches
  • Begin to bully other children, or siblings
  • Become aggressive and unreasonable
  • Give improbable excuses for any of the above

What To Do If Your Child Is The Bully

If you learn that your child is a bully:

  • Try and stay calm
  • Try not to become angry and defensive
  • Ask exactly what your child has been doing
  • Ask if they have behaved like this before

Talk to teachers, playground supervisors and other parents. The more you can find out what has been going on, the easier it will be to work out why your child has been bullying and what can be done about it.

How You Can Help Your Child

As a parent you may feel angry and upset on behalf of your child if you discover they are being bullied. Children often keep bullying quiet for fear of upsetting their parents. If you are worried that your child is being bullied ask him/her directly. Children who are being bullied are often frightened to tell what is happening so be prepared for your child to deny at first that<