Read on to find out more about how you can help your child to say no to bullying …
What is Bullying?
Bullying can be defined as repeated negative, ill-intentioned behaviour by one child (or more), directed against a child who has difficulty defending himself or herself (Olweus, 2004).
Involvement with bullying can be a stressful life event for both the child who bullies, and the one who is victimised – and their families.
Bullying behaviour in not just the result of individual characteristics, but is influenced by multiple relationships with peers, families, teachers, neighbours, and interactions with societal influences (eg media, technology etc).
Ryoo, Wang, and Swearer (2014) found that among youth who are frequently involved in bullying, children assumed different roles in bullying across school years. They found that youth can observe bullying, experience bullying, and perpetrate bullying across different situations and/or over time.
Is Your Child Being Bullied?
Common characteristics of a child who is being bullied:
- Cautious, sensitive, quiet, withdrawn and shy;
- Anxious, insecure, unhappy, and have low self-esteem;
- May have depressive symptoms and engage in suicidal ideation more often than children their age;
- Relate better to adults than to peers their age;
- A boy may be physically weaker than his peers.
Is Your Child the Bully?
Common characteristics of a bully:
- A strong need to dominate and subdue other children, and get their own way;
- Impulsive and easily angered;
- Defiant and aggressive toward adults, including parents and teachers;
- Display little empathy toward other children who are victimised;
- A boy may be physically stronger than other boys his age.
The Outcomes of Bullying
Research indicates that being involved as both a perpetrator and victim, seems to compound the impact of bullying, with greater risk for:
- Low self-esteem;
- Self harm;
- Suicidal ideation;
- Physical injury;
- Substance abuse;
- Negative attitudes toward school;
- Poor perceptions of school safety;
- Delinquency (Berkowitz & Benbenishty, 2012).
Say NO to Bullying
Bullying stems from complex interactions between individuals and the contexts in which they function – both proximal (family, peers, school climate) and distal (societal, cultural influences). Accordingly, multiple systems must be targeted in order for bullying prevention and intervention to be successful.
You can help say no to bullying by creating a school and home environment characterised by:
- Warmth, positive interest, and involvement from adults;
- Firm limits on unacceptable behaviour;
- Consistent application of rules and firm consequences that are clear to the child;
- Adults who are positive role models.
A psychologist can help families by educating members about aspects of bullying, guiding discussions around expressing feelings, increasing self confidence, opening conversations within the family, interacting with the school, helping to create goals to work toward, and providing parenting tips to reduce stress.
Author: Cassandra Gist, BPsych (Hons), MPsych, MAPS.
Brisbane Psychologist Cassandra Gist has a Masters in Health Psychology, and is able to treat clients aged from two years old right through to adulthood. She is experienced in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as children and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder.
To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Cassandra Gist, try Online Booking – Loganholme or Online Booking – Mt Gravatt. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129, or Vision Psychology (Mt Gravatt) on (07) 3088 5422.
- Berkowitz, R., & Benbenishty, R. (2012). Perceptions of teachers’ support, safety, and absence from school because of fear among victims, bullies, and bully-victims. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82,67-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2011.01132.x
- Olweus, D. (2004). Bullying at school: Prevalence estimation, a useful evaluation design, and a new national initiative in Norway. Association for Child Psychology and Psychiatry Occasional Papers, 23, 5-17.