Effects of bullying: what can parent do
Consequences of violent behaviour and threatening
Exposure to violence may have many consequences, like: loneliness, depression, sadness, intimidation, uncertainty, low self-confidence, even sickness, present throughout life. Findings show that victims of bullying at school are more depressed at the age of twenty than those who were not victimised by bullying.
It is important to emphasise that, if bullies do not change and stop bullying, they also suffer from long-term consequences of such behaviour. Studies have found that bullying during school years is related to criminal behaviour in later life.
Witnessing violent behaviours and threatening at school can result in higher risk of tolerance for bullying, or aggressive behaviour in the future.
What can parents do?
Parents can do a lot to help their child victim of bullying. They should know that their child is not guilty for feeling threatened. In some situations children can themselves cope with threatening and violent behaviour, but adults’ help and their inclusion is often necessary. Majority of children grow up in non-violent circumstances. They are not used to such behaviours and are not able to deal with them nor can they apply some strategies to prevent intimidation. Children who complain to their parents expect help and should not be told not to pay attention to being threatened.
If you suspect that your child is a victim of threatening and violent behaviour, let him/her tell you about what is happening. Do your best to:
- Listen to your child without interruptions
- Reassure your child that s/he is not guilty and that telling you was the right thing to do
- Ask the school teacher or professional for help
- Do NOT encourage your child to confront the situation alone
- Encourage your child to mingle with friends at school and on the way to and from school
- Be aware of the signs and symptoms of intimidation, do not neglect them, contact school
- Do not keep the intimidation secret
- Initiate the introduction of a prevention program against violent behaviour and threatening at school
- Give your child opportunity to tell you what s/he thinks about it
- Assemble other parents to discuss the problem and how to fight it
- Suggest a school rule book about conflict resolution – a document which regulates how the school copes with and resolves every incident.
- Agree to escort your child to school if bullying happens on his/her way to school
- Suggest that the bully is kept at school until everybody has gone home
- Take your child to a self-defence course if it can help his/her self-confidence and feeling of safety
- Record all incidents
- Onset of violent behaviour may indicate behaviour disorders. Professional help is recommended: if in Croatia, make an appointment with the Child Protection Center of Zagreb, tel.: 01/3457-518 or 519. The aim of counselling and therapy is improving self-respect and learning appropriate anger management. It is also useful to find some activity the child is successful and interested in and encourage him/her to take it.
If your child is a bully
If you suspect that your child is a bully, it is important to ask for help immediately, before more severe educational, social, emotional and legal difficulties have occurred. It is important to find out what causes the behaviour and develop a plan of changing it. Talk with the child, his/her paediatrician, school principal, educator, psychologist, special educator, psychiatrist… Violent children may have many reasons for their behaviours: imitating older siblings, parents, relatives, not knowing how to better communicate with other children, have themselves experienced abuse, are under tension due to various stressors…
You can stop violent behaviour:
- Talk to your child, explain the consequences of violence on the victims, be present in your child’s activities
- Encourage your whole family to behave differently, be an example
- Let your child not witness violence at home
- Show your child different ways of socialising
- Make appointments with the teacher, principal, educator…
- Talk with your child about everything, including school (warning! Your question ”How was it at school?” will most often be answered only with ”Good.” Talking should not stop here, be persistent.)
- Encourage your child and praise his/her non-violent conflict resolution and cooperation with others