It is important for parents to know how to manage a bullying report from their children. Many parents encourage the victim to react aggressively to the bullies. This is not good advice, unless, of course, as in my case, the victims are physically attacked, and must defend themselves. Otherwise, it is only encouraging physical abuse and violence. Parents should act calmly and decisively. It is important to get as much information about the bullying incident(s) as possible, and look at various ways of responding in a non-aggressive manner.
In the case of cyber bullying, help your child to keep a record of dates and times of the messages. Get them to save the messages and print them. The internet service provider can also block messages from certain callers. Threatening messages may warrant contacting the police. Your child may have to change his or her phone number, and on no account should abusive messages be answered. Cyber bullying may also take place through other electronic means such as computer, so parents should familiarise themselves with Facebook, tweeting, blogging and so on.
When the bully is known, the victim’s parents might make a decision to meet his or her parents, and this should be done in a calm manner to avoid confrontation. It is always best to meet the school management or the teacher appointed to deal with bullying situations. Sometimes school counsellors are best placed to resolve the conflict, because they can provide a calm environment to deal with the issue. As with workplace bullying, parents may decide to remove the child from the abusive environment, but it is well to remember that bullying is universal and may arise again in the new school. In Ireland, it is part of health and safety legislation to provide for the health of the child in the school environment. This includes mental health.
Where can we find hope? I suggest the main thing that is needed is a much better sense of respect for human beings, coupled with a sense of personal responsibility. The problem is a spiritual one in a broad sense. Legislation and rules, although they may help, will not solve the problem. People must be put before profit and performance. The educational system needs to be more about the person and less about results. I think that the failure of the rat race – as in the collapse of financial systems in 2009, and growing environmental problems – may lead people to ask fundamental questions and to seek to build a new type of society. I hope that this blog will help to give people an awareness of the sacredness of human existence and of the person; that bullying is unacceptable in society; and from this there may be a ripple effect.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press
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