Published by SchoolAdvisor on Apr 02, 2020, 10:13 AM
Even as the years go by in Malaysia, the word ‘bully’ still echoes through the thoughts of many parents fearing that their child is one of the victims/bullies. There was a time when these parents just ignored such occurring and left children to fend for themselves since they believed that it is a part of their growing up, not knowing when the fun had crossed the line into bullying. Thankfully, parents today know better.
To put things into perspective, Malaysian statistics state that back in 2018, eight out of 10 children were victims of bullying. However, these numbers mean nothing as most children tend to not report their bullies nor tell their parents of what had happened.
So, how can parents keep their children safe from such unpleasant experiences?
BE ATTENTIVE TOWARDS ANY SIGNS OF DISTRESS
Parents might suspect their child is being bullied but if they are unsure of the signs to look for it can be difficult to conclude since the child might just be going through a hard time with studies instead of being picked on.
Not all children who get bullied will inform their parents about getting harassed as they tend to be anxious about how parents would react. A child who is bullied will begin to act nervous and will be quieter than usual, even at home. And if it gets worse, they might even get to the point where they would harm themselves just to skip school.
Do not wait any longer to ask the child what is going on.
THINGS TO AVOID WHEN DEALING WITH A VICTIM OF BULLYING
· Ignoring them
· Getting angry
· Forcing the child to confront the bullies
· Jumping into conclusion without hearing the full story
· Blaming them for being bullied
· Accusing the school/the others
· Taking full control without asking the child’s opinion
· Confronting the bully / the bully’s parents without proper research
· Barging into the school without having a proper appointment
Be calm when the child tells you about what happened. It is advisable to not get panicked or angry as this will discourage them from seeking your guidance. Put all sorts of feelings aside and just listen attentively, then ask them how you can help. (Let them be a part of the decision-making process instead of taking over.) Jumping into conclusions and rushing to solve things would not only stress you out but the child as well.
There is a huge chance of the child not opening up to the parent. But fear not, there are other solutions. Get their closest friend (if they have one who you can trust) or ask their favourite aunt/uncle, cousin or teacher to have a one on one talk with them and then give you the situation.
Never make assumptions about what caused the bullying/harassment. It does not matter what caused the bullying, what matters is that it is happening, and it is very tormenting. Parents must reassure that it is not the child’s fault that they are being picked on, as most children, who are victims of bullying, think that they are the ones who brought it upon themselves. (Bullying can be caused by seemingly small things like the way one walks, talks, dresses, eats and so on.)
BUT WHAT HAPPENS IF THE CHILD IS THE BULLY?
What if you find out that your child is a bully- teasing and harming other children? Well, it means you need to let them know that what they are DOING is bad, doesn’t mean THEY ARE bad people. They are just kids who are still figuring out the world. Children who are involved in the act of bullying might be struggling with anxiety, trauma, or other mental health issues that cause them to react and act as such. It could also be because they are doing it just to seek attention from parents, teachers or from peer pressure (trying to fit in).
THINGS TO AVOID WHEN DEALING WITH A BULLY
Know what caused them to bully others. Talk to the child and understand what begun the need to treat other children so rudely. It is not ideal to get angry at them, as they may resent you for not siding with them.
Let them know that there will be consequences for their actions. Don’t let this behaviour slide off as “they are just kids playing around”. Make them take responsibility by giving the right punishment.
Bullying is a choice. Kids are kids, they make wrong choices as they grow. Communicate with them till they understood what they did wrong.
Spend more time with them. At times, children rebel just to receive the attention they want. Look around and see if there is something lacking in the family from the point of view of the child.
HOW TO STOP THE BULLYING
Educate the child on what’s inappropriate behaviour, let them know that bullying is not a good character trait.
Teach the child how to defend themselves, as most bullies like to prey on those who don’t know how to protect themselves. This doesn’t mean it is alright for the child to throw hands and call back names as this will make the situation worse. Instead, advise them to look confident (even if they aren’t) and to ignore since their reaction will only make bullies continue mocking.
Stand up for others in need. Advise them to show that they do not approve when others are being bullied too. They can start by saying things like “That is rude”, “It is not very nice of you” while walking away. This will let them (bullies) know that the child isn’t someone to mess with.
Make an appointment with the schoolteachers. Going straight to school without any notice will only make things problematic. Get an appointment and handle the situation professionally. Disclose to the teacher how the bullying had impacted the child’s well-being and their performance at home and in school. Question the teachers on what the school’s next course of action will be.
Meeting the parents. If the school takes minimum effort in resolving the issue, then there is no choice but to meet the people involved to stop the bullying. It is not encouraged as it might cause more conflict between the children if it goes downhill.
Take legal measures once there is verbal and physical abuse, sexual assault. It should be reported to the authorities immediately. Unfortunately, normal bullying is not a crime in Malaysia until the above happens or worse when the bullying results in the death/suicide of a child.
Lastly, don’t shrug it off as bullying is not something to be taken lightly. It might begin with name-calling when the bullied child becomes the laughingstock, but if not addressed, it can progress much further. It might not leave a physical mark, but it is a memory that will wound the child with fear/guilt that constantly lingers on even as they become adults.
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