Bullies and bullying

Bullying isn’t an inevitable part of growing up. Research shows that whether your child is being bullied, being the bully, or watching their friend being bullied, they need help. It affects everyone (even you as parents) and often has a major impact on children’s developing sense of self, school performance and self-esteem (even into adulthood).  Often it’s emotionally terrifying – silently imprisoning kids in shame, feeling worthless and desperate.

From shoving, hitting, mocking, threats, name-calling, shunning, spreading rumours or exclusion tactics to forcing victims to do or give them things, bullying is any ongoing/repetitive intentional tormenting.  Cyber-buylling –via electronic messaging, online chatroom’s, the internet and social media – is even more complex and has become a major problem worldwide. 

Bullying: Warning signs in children

  • depression and anxiety – often seen as a nervousness and loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities
  • strong feelings of sadness, loneliness, worry and fear
  • disturbances in sleep and eating patterns
  • health complaints – poor appetite, headaches, abdominal pain, tiredness
  • school refusal – skipping class, or dropping out
  • performance deteriorates

In cases of cyber-bullying

  • loss of/obsessive interest in the computer and cell phone
  • won’t talk about what’s going on
  • gets stressed when receiving e-mail, texts or instant messages
  • withdrawing from family and friends

Remember, bullying is about power, where those with the lowest self-esteem (i.e. the least power) become the victims.  Those who bully have unfortunately learnt to feel powerful in destructive ways, and are often doing so from their own previous emotional hurt.  Although children may respond differently, they will rarely admit that they’re being bullied (even if you have a close relationship.)  This makes it vital to learn more about bullying and seek help for your child. Become involved – check whether your child’s school runs anti-bullying awareness campaigns and has a policy of how to deal with bullying.  The best antidote is to help build their self-esteem.

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Carol Surya

Carol Surya

Carol Surya, author, psychologist, game developer and workshop facilitator. Her practical parenting book, ParentMagic – Raising Kids stems from  experience gained over the last 20 years working with children and their parents worldwide. You will find her company, Raising Kids Positively on Jozikids 

4 Responses

  1. This is a such an important issue and it came at the right time. My cousin just told me this evening that she has been bullied at school for 5 years now. She’s in grade 12 now and there’s a boy who slaps her. Even other student tease her even though she performs well at school that also wins trophies for her academy achievements. I’m so hurts and sad as I don’t know how to help her . I’m the only one she has told about this bullying.

    I don’t want to lose her trust and so I need professional guidance to help her correctly.

    So far I told her to tell a teacher she might trust because she should never hide this bullying because it is not right. But she told me that she’s been coping about the bullying so far! But she always tells me that she’s always emotional and has anxiety and always sad and lonely.

    I’m so frustrated cause I’m far away from her as I live in Orange farm, Johannesburg and she lives at Bekkersdal.

    I need your help to help my cousin please.

    1. Thanks Dimpho for your comment. It is wonderful that your cousin has opened up to you. You can assure her that she has done the right thing. Even though you are far away, she clearly trusts you.
      So my suggestion is to keep communicating with her – let her know that you believe her, that you are hurt/sorry that this has happened to her, and that in order for the bullying to stop, you need to tell other adults who can help her. Even though she feels she has ‘coped’ so far, you can point out to her all of the anxiety and other emotional signs she has often been showing.
      Once she has accepted that, it would be best to connect her with a local resource (i.e. FAMSA in Bekkersdal, or a social worker via a clinic or community centre). Counseling for victims of bullying can make a massive difference, yet is not a ‘long distance’ matter. She needs to form a relationship with a counsellor so that she can trust them enough to unpack all of the hurt, improve her self esteem and get tools to deal with the bullying, so that it will stop.

      1. Thank you for the speedy respond and advises.

        I will do as advised and hopefully all will fall into places for my cousin to be herself again and gain her confidence.

        Your contributions makes the world a better world and truly appreciate for all the good work you do.

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