Bullying Prevention Awareness Month at the ISUtrecht
October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, a time to focus and raise awareness on healthy relationships and bullying. Positive healthy relationships are a key corner stone of the growth and development of our children. Positive relationships help them learn, understand, and discover who they are through others – which allows them to become caring and responsive people.
By Niamh Keane, School counselor/psychologist
In this article we will look at how you as a parent can talk about building healthy relationships at home, what bullying is and what you can do if you suspect your child is being bullied.
Relationships play a key part in every child’s wellbeing. Students who build strong and positive connections, general feel secure and supported. In school there is therefore strong emphasis on creating and maintaining healthy relationships with friends and classmates. Through lessons on emotions, conflict resolution and friendship as well as through positive behavioral support, as a school we work on creating a positive class climate and fostering healthy relationships.
Despite our efforts, however, unhealthy relationships can sometimes occur in your child’s life, and even in some cases bullying.
What is bullying?
Bullying is defined as the unwanted, aggressive behaviour between school aged children, that is repeated over time, or else has the potential to be repeated. As well as this, there is often a power imbalance happening between the bully, and the person being bullied. There are different kinds of bullying which can happen, including physical, social, and cyberbullying.
- Physical Bullying is often times the repeated use of physical force against someone through punching, pinching, or damaging their property.
- Social Bullying occurs often in a secretive way, and as a result, is harder to notice in children. Social bullying can occur through mocking someone, excluding, playing tricks or mean jokes, or the spreading of rumours for examples.
- Cyber Bullying can occur at any time, even from the safety of one’s home. Cyberbullying is also of concern due to the constant use of technology these days. Cyberbullying can include the abuse of someone’s posts online, harassing someone through messages, or also even the imitation of someone’s online platform.
How can you support your child?
Building positive relationships is vital in our social and emotional development. There are many ways in which parents can help their child with building these positive contacts. One of the first one’s being one of the simplest – building their conversation skills. Good conversation skills may seem obvious, however this does not come naturally to a lot of children. This can be done easily through practicing simple back and forth conversations, practicing and pointing out social cues in different situations, and also pointing out good examples of conversations from TV shows, movies, or real-life situations.
These skills can also lead to another very important aspect of a healthy relationship- good listening skills. A vital part of any healthy relationship is listening to your friend, and showing interest in the other person. Good listening often leads to strong empathising with other children, which in turn often leads to strong and healthy relationships.
Trust, respect and empathy
Talking to your child open and honestly about some of the key components of friendships can also be very helpful in fostering such relationships. Teaching your child that the parts of friendship such as trust, respect, and conflict resolution, are extremely important for healthy relationships.
It isn’t realistic to say that children will always ‘get on’ with each other and not experience some difference of opinion from time to time, and therefore preparing your child for this can be very useful for them in navigating the social world. Talking to your child about empathy, honest communication, and again listening skills, can go a long way in fostering conflict resolution for healthy relationships.
What can I do if I suspect my child is being bullied?
If you think your child is being bullied, it is important to talk to them about what is going on. During this conversation you can also mention some of the above tips- such as talking about boundaries, conflict resolution, and respectful relationships. It is also important that you reach out to the classroom teacher, or mentor who will work with you to resolve the issue.
If you suspect that your child is being cyber bullied, it is important to monitor their internet usage and screen time. Explain to your child that is it never a good idea to retaliate against such bullies, as it can often make things worse. You should also then report the accounts doing the bullying to the platform provider, and also to the school if it is a classmate for example. Encourage your child to practice safe internet use, and adjust their privacy settings as necessary to only interact with people that they genuinely know.
Bullying awareness month
During bullying awareness month our staff will raise awareness through classroom discussions about bullying, healthy relationships and conflict resolution. In secondary there will be a “toilet talk” poster in all bathrooms, with information and ideas, and also resources with who to reach out to and what to do if they are being bullied. Students can find more information, and support via the various bulletin boards.
If you would like to know more, please find some helpful websites below: