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"How to Stop Bullying" by Gail Matthews

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A small percentage may actually join in the harassment by the bully

where they also have negative views about the victim or some aspect of

their appearance, sexuality or ethnic background.

Each person probably has a way that they can rationalize their

action or lack of it. They might say:

They brought it on themselves.

I could not handle the attacker by myself.

It was not my fight.

I’m wearing new clothes.

A major influence which discourages children from assisting the

victim or becoming involved in any way (like reporting the incident) is the advice which many parents give.

They, understandably, don’t want their children to get into a

situation where they might be hurt or which might lead to retaliation by

the bully or their group at a later time. So, they tell the child not to get involved and don’t tell on anyone.

That may keep them physically safe but does nothing to reduce the

bullying problem. And, it does not protect them from the stress of

watching something which they instinctively know is wrong but which they

cannot do anything about.

Some children who witness this sort of incident at school or in their

homes can lose their sensitivity to such violence and may start to believe it is a normal way to resolve their difficulties and another bully or, at least, a supporter of bullies is created.

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How to Help Your Own Children

The most important thing which you can do to assist your children

is to be a role model and actively demonstrate the values which you want

them to follow in dealing with everyone that they come in contact with.

Giving Advice to

Children

Children,

like

many adults, need

direction from time to

time. But, it can be quite

difficult for us to give it in

a way that they

understand and are able

to take action about.

Children

are

always testing themselves and their boundaries as they prepare

themselves for the future in a rapidly changing World.

It may not be effective if we simply tell our children, “Do this” and

“Do that” where our advice is always in the form of blunt instructions (the way that many of our parents probably passed on their knowledge and

experience to us).

Most children who are attending school are more influenced by the

opinions and comments of their peers and classmates than they are by

advice from their parents.

Anthony Robbins, the famous motivator, pointed out that learning

something new is most effective when the new information can be relate

d

to something we already know.

To help your child understand and deal with bullying and other

concerns, you need to relate your message to something which the child

already understands. Think about passing on your advice when you can

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link it with something which one of their friends or someone else they

admire did instead of just telling them this is how you should behave in

this sort of situation.

Another way which can encourage children to take note of what we

say is to show a genuine interest in what they say. Don’t be too quick to judge their comments or laugh at their ideas. If your child starts a new hobby or starts trying to break a bad habit, give them support and

encouragement, especially when things aren’t working right for the .

m

Encourage them to persist but try to find a more recent role model

than that knight and the spider. When you want to discuss a difficult

subject like bullying with your child, you both might find it less stressful if you talk while you are doing some activity which you both enjoy, such as

making cookies. This can make the talk seem less formal and reduce

their stress level.

If you are looking for a reason to talk to them about bullying,

maybe you could find a report on the news or a story in a television

program which you both watch which has an element of bullying or where

one character treats another in a mean way.

You could also ask them what they think of the different styles of

jokes in different shows. Some comedians use put-downs to get a quick

laugh while others get their laughs without making the other person loo

k

silly. Perhaps you could ask them how they would prefer to be treated an

d

how they would feel if someone used a unkind joke against them. A friend

of mine said it well recently, “Don’t try to build yourself up by putting someone else down.”

Don’t try to pre end

t

that you have all the answers. If they ask you

about something and you don’t have the information, say so.

Promoting Tolerance

For all the obvious and subtle differences between us, we are all

human beings. We need to accept the differences between our cultures,

beliefs and goals. Most importantly, we should always encourage our

children to accept and welcome people that are different from them.

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This

won’t

happen

if we just suggest that

they let children with

different backgrounds

and appearance join

their games. It’s much

better to demonstrate

by our own actions the good manners and goodwill which we want them

to adopt.

When you are with your child and they make some remark about

someone who has a different appearance, style of clothing or whatever,

you could point out to your child that it would be a very dull World if we were all exactly the same.

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Signs that your Child may be a Target

As I have shown in the previous section, there are many reasons

why some children will tell their parents about being bullied while others may not.

Even parents that have developed a close bond with their children

may not find out from the child when they have been the target of a bully.

Sometimes, even the professionals can have trouble recognizing

that a child is being victimized.

You can use this list to

help you detect whether there

is a strong possibility that your

child has been bullied if you

cannot get the confirmation

from the child or other reliable

source. I have compiled this

list from what other parents

have told me and the advice of

experienced professionals. But,

it is important to keep in mind

that none of the points which I

include here are definite indicators that your child is being bullied. There may be a totally different reason why your child is showing the particular behavior or symptom.

You must use your own judgment and knowledge of your child and

never just jump to conclusions.

A child that has been bullied may:

Lose interest in visiting friends or having some friends visit them.

Have bruises, cuts or other marks which they don’t mention and are

reluctant to explain.

Claim to have lost their lunch or pocket money.

Say they damaged or lost books or other materials from their

school bag or even the bag itself.

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Lose their previous enthusiasm for school and after school

activities, including sport.

Claim to be sick, with vague symptoms or even real ones, more

frequently than before.

Develop rashes, cold sores or other minor infections which may be

stress related.

Refuse to go on school excursions or attend school functions.

Start getting lower grades for no apparent reason.

Be unable to sleep without nightmares, excessive sweating or other

signs of distress.

Lose their appetite or start to over indulge in snack foods.

Miss classes or stay away from school for days at a time.

Starting complaining they’re hungry as soon as they get home from

school (the bully may have stolen or thrown away the lunch you

prepared).

Spending more time alone at the computer or watching television.

Sudden change in temperament with angry outbursts and more

arguments with siblings or parents.

Make repeated demands for more fashionable clothes and other

accessories which are popular with the children at their school.

If you see any of the indicators that I have listed above, your child

will offer an explanation for it. You may believe that they are hiding the truth from you, but that could just be out of genuine concern, because

they don’t want to worry you or they think you might be disappointed in

them if they tell you that they have been bullied.

It is best to develop a habit of chatting with your children and

displaying a genuine interest in their experiences at school over time

rather than only showing an interest when they are showing signs like

those listed above. But, they will expect you to ask and you should be as tactful as you can how you discuss this or other personal subjects with

them.

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When Your Child has been Bullied

If you hear from a reliable third party about your child being bullied

or if you are convinced that it is happening because of the changes in

behavior and temperament that you have seen, approach the matter

calmly and avoid dramatic questions or accusations.

Dealing with the Bully and their Parents

Most parents will naturally be upset when they know that their child

has been bullied. Sit down with your child and get their version of the

incident or incidents. It’s a good idea to write everything down and keep a record of all matters that relate to the bullying and your follow-up until the matter is resolved.

If you find out the name of the child that your child tells you are the

bully, you may want to confront the child or group that targeted their child directly and as soon as possible.

This is an understandable reaction but it is unlikely to produce a

positive result. In that sort of situation, you should always make sure that you cannot be accused of applying any sort of pressure on any child.

You must treat them as you would expect your own child to be

treated if the roles were reversed. Only meet the child if the meeting has been set and you know that a neutral adult, such as a teacher, is also

present. If you know or find out the names and address of the bully’s

parents, you may try to meet them and discuss the issue.

Let me warn you that this can often lead to confrontation between

yourself and the other parents. This can have a serious and long-lasting

effect on any bond or relationship which your family has enjoyed with

them in the past. Keep that possibility in mind.

But, of course, your main focus will be to find out what actually

occurred and to stop your child being bullied as quickly as possible to limit the possibility of any long-term harm.

The other child’s parents are likely to have a totally different view of

the situation. Their child may have told them that the children were just playing a game or even that your child was the aggressor!

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To give yourself the best chance to resolve the situation, approach

them in a calm and co-operative manner. Ask for their help in solving your mutual problem rather than demanding that their child be punished.

Make sure that you write down your recollection of everything that

was said at the meeting with the parents, if you have one, before you

forget anything. I believe that it’s a better choice for you to contact the school and let them follow up with the other family. I’ll cover that and

some other suggestions in the next chapter.

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Dealing with Your Child’s School

All schools in each country face growing demands and shrinking

resources. The basic demands are that they provide a safe and

supportive environment where the students can increase their knowledge

and learn to make the best of their abilities.

Schools also provide a great opportunity for children to develop

their social skills and forge friendships which may last the rest of their lives. Schools also often encourage, unintentionally, bullying of the weak by the strong. This mostly happens between students but there are also

many incidents where teachers or other staff bully each other or some of

the students.

There must be a good level of supervision in a school or bullying

could flourish. The best schools will support their students and their

teachers and other staff. They will treat all with equal respect and provide good systems and role models. Some schools boast that they don’t have

any bullying but that always makes me wonder.

When your child has been bullied and you want it stopped, I believe

that the best course would be to report the matter to your child's school principal and also contact their home room teacher. They are likely to

have some experience of similar situations and know more about the

activities and alliances of all the children involved than you do.

The school will also have access to professional help if it should be

required. So, give them all the details you have and ask them to follow it up. If you don’t get any satisfactory response, you should contact other parents that are not involved in the incident and the parent’s group, if the school has one, to find out if there is a history of bullying and get their suggestions about obtaining a positive result.

After about a week, contact the school and arrange to meet the

home room teacher, a senior teacher (preferably the principal) and their

human resources person if the school has one. Let your child attend the

meeting if they want to. Don’t push them to do so.

But, either way, make sure that you take your written record of the

incident and the follow-up to the meeting with the teachers.

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Do as I suggested earlier for your discussion with the other child’s

parents. Calmly state the facts as you know them and ask for their help

to resolve the matter. Do not blame anyone and don’t make threats. You

want their cooperation because they have more knowledge than you

about the legal and education systems and are more likely to help you if

you maintain a professional attitude.

Make notes about everything that is said and who said it. Ask any

questions that come to mind, such as the level of supervision during

classes and, breaks as well as before and after school. Try to get

information about other bullying incidents and how they were resolved.

After the meeting, carefully prepare a letter with all the facts, your

recollection of the discussion and what you believe has been agreed as the next step.

If you do not see any progress with the school after a week or so,

contact them by phone and ask for an update in writing. Contact other

parents to check whether there are any other recent bullying episodes at

the school.

If these are also unresolved, you may be able to get the other

parents to join you in an approach to the School Board or the relevant

public official if it is a public school. Ensure that you keep a record of any further incidents involving your child while you try to get action from the school. It may be time-consuming and frustrating but this method should

get you results.

It is a good demonstration to your child of following proper process

and shows that they have your support and you will take whatever action

you need to help them.

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When Your Child tells You about Bullying

Many

children

will not feel confident

enough to tell an adult,

either a parent or

teacher or other

authority figure, that

they have been bullied.

They may have learned

from other children as

well as their parents

that it is wrong to tell

tales.

We need to assure them that telling a responsible adult about a

potentially harmful situation which affects them or other children is always the right thing to do.

Research suggests that most children will tell someone about

bullying which they have been subjected to.

This will usually be another child, less often a parent (most often

their mother) and even less often a teacher or other person in a position of authority.

Boys are usually less likely to tell someone. Perhaps because they

are conditioned by society and the books and movies they see to believe

that they should try to handle those sorts of problems themselves.

If your child does tell you that they have been bullied, it is a sign

that your relationship with the child is a strong one. Your first reaction is very important.

Even an incident which you might feel is minor can be distressful for

a young child. It will influence how the child deals with future incidents and also how confident they will feel about seeking support from you or

other adults in the future.

Show that you care about how they feel and that you will help them

through the situation. Some people will tell their children to ignore the Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved

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incident if it seems to be minor or if they think it may not be repeated.

This can suggest to the child that their concerns and the physical or

emotional hurt they suffered is not as important to you as they feel it is.

It could make them keep quiet about any further incidents.

This could have a lasting impact as bottling up their feelings about

the bullying along with your lack of effective response might increase their emotional stress.

That could lead to the development of physical or emotional

ailments later on or it may lead them to bully other children, even their younger siblings.

Don’t just tell the child what they should do without showing by

word and action that you understand on an emotional level what they are

going through and that they can depend on your support as well as your

advice.

Why Children Don’t tell Adults about Bullying

Several factors can cause a child to not report bullying which they

are subjected to.

The aggressor will usually threaten them to not tell anyone.

The child may not feel that adults, whether their family or teachers

or other authority figures, will take them seriously or be able to

provide effective support.

A child may not have any close friends among the other children.

The child may fear the reaction of other children when they learn

about them reporting the bullying.

The victim may know of other students who have reported the

attacks on them and either not been believed or failed to gain any

help to resolve the problem.

Sometimes, the victim has reported that things got worse after they

reported the first incident!

Research suggests that nobody; teachers or any other group, were

more than 50% successful in stopping the bullying.

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If those figures reflect the current situation, we need to improve the

way that reports are followed up so that better outcomes become the

norm rather than the exception.

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Helping Your Child to Handle Bullies.

You can help your child to be prepared for bullies as it is inevitable

they will encounter one or more in each of the

schools which they attend. I feel the most

important thing you need to tell your child is that

you will be ready to support them with any

problems that they encounter at school or

elsewhere.

You can also help them to develop their

social skills, self-confidence and a network of

friends – three important factors which help to

reduce the chance that they will be bullied and that

they will be much better able to cope with it if

anyone tries to bully them.

Responding to Verbal Bullying.

Verbal bullying is one of the most common types which children and

adults will encounter. Most will react by showing signs of distress or

trying to turn the attack on their tormentor with an equally insulting

verbal response or physical attack.

These responses are what the bully expects and each of them will

inevitably encourage more abuse. An assertive but polite response can

reduce the likelihood of further bullying for a time, but this is not

something which comes easily to children.

The response needs to be something which is non-confrontational

and which your child is comfortable about using.

He or she might say, "You may be right, thank you" and then keep walking on without giving any indication that the comment had any

importance or impact.

I have read advice that children should make a joke about the

bully’s taunt. I feel that could provoke a swift physical response from the bully who would not like to have their intended victim make fun of them.

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Most bullies are not real bright and may not even understand the

joke. What they don’t understand, they don’t like and many tend to hit

what they don’t like.

That’s why I think the firm but neutral remark like the one I wrote

above is the best course.

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Improve the Child’s Social Skills.

A child that has a poor self-image or lacks social skills will find it

hard to mix with the other children at their school. This will leave them isolated and their tendency not to mix with the other students will attract negative comments which will probably drive their opinion of themselves

further down.

Their attitude and situation will probably attract the attention of

bullies. These children also display some basic characteristics which

reinforce their “difference” from most of the children in the school:

Showing anger, fear and other negative emotions on your face will

attract a bully’s attention.

Let the child practice keeping their face smooth, “like a poker player

with a winning hand”.

If their hands shake, they might want to keep them in their jacket

pockets. Boys might prefer to get a coin and learn to roll it from finger to finger around their hands. Or, they could exercise their hands by

squeezing a small rubber ball which can help to increase the strength in

their wrists.

If the child is shy, suggest that they try to talk to two children they

don’t know at school each week or even each day. Ask them what they

might say because they need to ask questions which show a genuine

interest in the person they have just met.

Showing a genuine interest in other people is the first building block

in repairing their way of interaction with the children and other people

they meet.

Another indicator which attracts bullies to potential victims is their

poor posture. They often stand like they have been found guilty of

something.

The quickest way to help them improve their posture is to suggest

that they try to stand like one of their favorite media personalities or even a teacher or other adult they know and admire.

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If they still slump, tell them you have tied a thread to the center of

the top of their head and they are about to be pulled upward until they

are standing tall.

That works – it’s a simple and practical technique which they can

use any time and anywhere to improve their posture in seconds.

Another thing which can be quickly improved is how they breathe.

Many children and adults get along on quick short breaths which they only draw into the top of their lungs. That’s inefficient and unhealthy. Tell them to stand straight and put their finger tips on their stomach. Now,

they should try to draw a breath in through their nose and deep into the

chest.

Tell them to wait a few seconds and then breathe out slowly. It

might take a few tries to get it right but this also will help them feel and look more comfortable and confident.

A smile is really the shortest way between two people. But some

people only like to smile once every leap year and then they forget!

Tell them, “If you smile at three people today, at least one of them

will smile back at you.”

“Then you can pass on that smile to someone else tomorrow.”

Record them on video if you have a camera – you could even use a

little web cam attached to your computer.

Let them practice which exercises they want to do and keep the

recording.

Then, get them to record themselves a few weeks later or

whenever they want to do so.

The improvement they will see will help to boost their confidence.

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Are Martial Arts Courses Helpful?

Some parents will react to their child, especially a son, being bullied

by trying to teach them how to defend themselves or fight the bully.

This can have some benefits but it is not likely to be much use to the child because:

It will take some time for them to learn enough to be able to defend

themselves.

It suggests to them, when they are very impressionable, that

violence should be countered with equal or greater force.

When they fight back, it is likely that the bully or their mates will

escalate their aggression and the risk of injury to your child or

others will increase.

Many parents think about enrolling their children in martial arts or

other strength building, sports-related courses.

I believe that a properly run course, which is appropriate for the

age of the child, can have benefits over time.

The major benefits for most children will be:

An increase in their self-esteem which may reduce the likelihood

that they will be targets of further bullying.

Interacting with the other children who are also taking the course.

Better fitness.

Increased self-discipline from having to fit the exercises and

training sessions into their daily routine.

A good course will help your child, but any fitness or sport-related

activity could provide most of the same benefits.

Involvement in a team sport could be a better choice because it

would have them mixing with other children about their age.

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You’re NOT Alone

We must try to assure children, both ours and those we have dealing with, that they do not have to deal with bullying or the effects which come from this or other problems which they face in their formative years alone.

The lonely child, the child with emotional problems or a difficult home life is likely to be a prime target of bullies and they may be the source of the next generation of bullies.

There are many resources in our communities and internationally which

are focused on countering bullying and its effects.

This listing is for different countries. The listings include government and private organizations in no particular order:

Internet Resources

Important Note:

All good web sites update their pages regularly. Sometimes this means

that they change the location of some material.

Use the Search function (usually a small box with a picture of a

magnifying glass beside it) if any of the pages I list are no longer

available.

If that does not find what you want, email the webmaster or use a

reputable Search Engine and copy the address from the listing.

Keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs up to date. Make sure

that you type in the correct web site address (many fake sites exist which have similar spelling to sites like the BBC, Banks etc and they are

dangerous.

AUSTRALIA:

Bullyingnoway http://www.bullyingnoway.com.au/

Produced, maintained

and supported by all

levels of Australian

governments to

provide information

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for all types of schools (private, public) around Australia.

Of course, there’s probably some information which can be adapted to

other countries.

Child Safety Australia

http://www.childsafetyaustralia.com.au/intro.htm

This site does have what seems good information but there is no

information about who runs the site.

Make your own judgment.

KidsHelpLine

http://www.kidshelp.com.au/

This is the site for the

group that run the

Children’s free help

phone Line.

It is a project of

Boystown which has a

long history of helping

children.

Lawstuff

http://ww.lawstuff.org.au/

A lot of people,

including almost

all bullies, don’t

realize there are

legal implications

and penalties for

people that bully

anyone.

Victims have

rights!

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This site is run by the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre has

valuable information about this area

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Yahoo Groups which discuss Bullying

http://groups.yahoo.com/phrase/how-to-prevent-school-violence

This is a list of groups which hold discussions in Yahoo’s Groups about

bullying and related topics.

Check out any group carefully because people may not use their correct

names – there are risks to

your privacy etc if you aren’t

careful.

Don’t share highly personal

information without making

checks off the Internet.

Despite my caution, I know

that discussions with people through good groups can lead to sharing of

ideas to benefit everyone.

CANADA

Bullying.org

http://www.bullying.org/

A site created by a father and teacher in cooperation with a focus group of school children in response to school shooings in the U.S.A. and Canada in 2000.

Very useful site whereever you are located.

United Kingdom

BBC Resource about

Bullying

A great resource with

material for children on

other pages.

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Media (television, newspapers etc change their page locations more

frequently than most sites.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/parents/life/health_happiness/pr

oblems/bullying.shtml

Bullying UK

http://www.bullying.co.uk/

Organization with focus on helping children and parents deal with bullying and its effects.

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The Next Step

You’ve reached the end of my book. I hope you’ve found the

journey interesting and re-assuring.

The next step is to apply the suggestions which I’ve included here

to help your children and your community reduce the incidences and

effects of bullying.

I wish you Good Luck and Great Success!

Gail Matthews 2009

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Another eBookWholesaler Publication

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