The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

see what the bul­lies have done to oth­ers and don’t want it to be their turn next, so they join in. There are also those who don’t de­fend the vic­tim for the same rea­son.

I have never been one to sit by and watch. I know how it feels to be that per­son who is wish­ing some­one said some­thing or stood up for them. It is also not a good feel­ing know­ing you could have done some­thing to make some­one’s day a lit­tle brighter. It may be de­scribed as “stick­ing your nose in”, but other peo­ple may see it as stand­ing up for what’s right. I al­ways stand up for what I be­lieve in. I would even stand up for my en­emy if they hap­pened to be in the right. No one should be without de­fend­ers. Of­ten my opin­ions are dif­fer­ent from oth­ers’, but who wants to fol­low the crowd any­way? Let your opin­ion be heard. I al­ways stand up for what I be­lieve in, and some­times I do stand alone.

If you are the one who is hurt­ing some­one, stop, be­cause you may be the rea­son they don’t want to come to school.

If you see that per­son you prankcalled or in­sulted? Say sorry and stop, be­cause that might make some­one’s day bet­ter. If you see that per­son cry­ing over there? Go over and help be­cause kind­ness doesn’t cost any­thing and has the abil­ity to help so many peo­ple.

Ev­ery word you say to some­one who is al­ready down has such a big im­pact, so don’t hurt that per­son, be­cause what you may see as a joke can badly im­pact on some­one else. Sadly, one in­sult cre­ates a big­ger im­pres­sion then one act of kind­ness, that’s why we all need to show lots of acts of kind­ness.

A few years ago I went to an adult net­ball ses­sion. Ev­ery­one was per­fectly pleas­ant but no-one knew me and I was ex­cluded from the ac­tion. I wasn’t bul­lied and I un­der­stood why I’d been side­lined, but I felt vul­ner­a­ble and iso­lated. I told my grownup chil­dren that I wasn’t go­ing again “be­cause no­body threw the ball to me”.

The in­ci­dent re­minded me of how easy it is to un­der ap­pre­ci­ate the strength of feel­ings that chil­dren can have to sit­u­a­tions that may seem in­con­se­quen­tial to adults. When it es­ca­lates into per­sis­tent bul­ly­ing, the im­pact can be se­verely dam­ag­ing to a child’s self es­teem, health, ed­u­ca­tion and men­tal and emo­tional well be­ing.

So how can you sup­port your child when they are be­ing bul­lied?

Be avail­able : your child will tell you what’s go­ing on if they know you will take time to lis­ten to them. Let them know that their needs are more im­por­tant to you than prepar­ing the din­ner by stop­ping what you’re do­ing and giv­ing them proper at­ten­tion.

Lis­ten: it’s not easy to start open­ing up about hurt­ful things. Help your child to talk to you by ac­knowl­edg­ing what they say; “They all went and sat on a ta­ble to­gether and left you stand­ing on your own. That sounds hor­ri­ble and hu­mil­i­at­ing.” Chil­dren re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate you recog­nis­ing what’s go­ing on for them. You can then start to plan some safety strate­gies.

Build re­silience: raise con­fi­dent chil­dren by giv­ing them age ap­pro­pri­ate re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and invit­ing them to take part in fam­ily de­ci­sion mak­ing pro­cesses. Bul­ly­ing can eas­ily dom­i­nate a per­son’s life; main­tain­ing other ar­eas of ac­tiv­i­ties and in­ter­ests can help to re­mind a child of their value and ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Good re­la­tion­ships with wider fam­ily mem­bers, friends, teach­ers, re­li­gious and com­mu­nity mem­bers also pro­vide a di­verse sup­port net­work for young peo­ple.

Role play: prac­tise some non­con­fronta­tional re­sponses that your child feels com­fort­able us­ing, if they feel brave enough to. “Stop say­ing that” or “stop do­ing that” are easy to re­mem­ber.

Take ac­tion: in agree­ment with your child, the rel­e­vant author­ity should be in­formed. Keep a di­ary of in­ci­dents if nec­es­sary and take screen shots or print­outs of any­thing that oc­curs on so­cial me­dia. For dan­ger­ous bul­ly­ing sit­u­a­tions, it may be­come nec­es­sary to make a re­port to the po­lice.

It’s po­ten­tially a long road with no quick so­lu­tions. Don’t give up. bal­a­batishe


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