When handling bullying situations, there are some basic dos and don’ts everybody needs to know.
WHILE it’s the community’s responsibility to step in when witnessing a bully intimidating a victim, to blunder in could make everything worse.
Bullying situations can get highly emotional - and that means victims, bystanders, teachers and parents alike need to know how to handle it with sensitivity and tact.
Unicef recommends the following steps to successfully diffuse bullying situations:
If you’re the one being bullied, tell the bully to stop and walk away. Remember, you are not doing anything wrong - you have the right to feel safe and secure at all times.
Tell a trusted adult. This can be anyone you feel comfortable talking to. If talking face to face is difficult for you, you can also write down what happened and pass it to that adult. Even if you believe you have successfully dealt with it on your own, make sure an adult is aware. They have the power to permanently end the bullying, but they first need to be aware that the bullying exists.
If you’re a bystander, speak up. Tell an adult or teacher. Remember, reporting a bully is the right thing to do, even if the bully is your friend. The bully might be having personal issues of his or her own, and reporting the incident could result in your friend getting the help he or she needs, as well as ending the aggression.
Listen and try to get the whole story out of the student, but don’t interrogate him or her. The student shouldn’t end up feeling attacked - it already took a great deal of courage to report the situation.
Make sure the victim/whistleblower understands that the school is on their side, and will take appropriate action.
When addressing the bully, avoid being overly negative and blaming them for their actions. Rather, try to focus on the bully’s positive characteristics - bullies sometimes act out as a result of emotional hurt. Reinforcing their positive characteristics can help to alleviate their pain and help them refocus onto something positive.
However, a severe case means teachers must firmly reinforce the school’s policy on bully prevention, in order to protect the victim. While teachers should be kind, bullies must still learn that their actions have consequences.
It requires a lot of courage for a child to tell you he or she has been bullied, so don’t demand to know why they didn’t defend themselves, or encourage them to physically fight back.
Instead, discuss ways they can respond, like walking away, using humour to discourage the bully, or taking firm action and saying “Stop that.”
Try not to interrogate your child about the incident. Instead, listen actively and assure your child that it’s the bully who is at fault, not your child. Don’t tell them not to worry, because it can seem dismissive and discourage your child from confiding in you aagain.
If the situation worsens, make an appointment with the school to look for solutions.