Are you being bullied at school? Here are 5 effective ways to open up to your parents and teachers
Nearly one in four students experience bullying, which can have long-term effects. Here are effective ways to seek help and develop supportive relationships.
Have you ever felt the need to fit in with a particular group at school, or found yourself behaving in a certain way - wanting to have certain things, wearing certain clothes, acting differently - because of the need to fit in? If so, you are not alone. And this is how most of us develop our peer group at a young age. School days are some of the most enjoyable days of our lives, where we not only receive an education but also learn important skills that help build our personalities. But it can also be a nightmare for some children and the cause of lifelong trauma.
Nearly one in four students (22%) report experiencing bullying during the school year, according to the 2015 National Center for Educational Statistics report. Walking to the bus stop or having a break can become a nightmare for children because of a bully. Bullying can leave deep emotional scars. It can also, in extreme cases, result in serious physical injury or damage to property. And even if bullying isn't a problem in your home right now, it's important to talk to your children about it so they're prepared if it does happen. (Also read: Tips for parents and teachers on educating children to self-protect against bullying )
Effective Strategies for Addressing School Bullying
According to Meghna Yadav, Child Psychologist and Consultant Head of Training and Development at KLAY Centre for Child Development and Care, your social circle at school plays an important role in your growth as a healthy adult. However, it is crucial to identify the right mix of friends who will have a positive influence on you. Meghna further shared with HT Lifestyle useful insights and tips to help you deal with bullying.
1. There is a group of students who pick on a student who is generally quiet in class. This group calls them funny names and often taunts them for not talking or speaking up. Sometimes, they may even go so far as to publicly speak about them in ways that create a negative perception of the student in the eyes of the wider student population. They might even invite them into their ‘clique’ only to exclude them purposely from their activities.
2. On the other hand, there is a group of students who notice a shy and reticent student and invite them to participate in activities with them so as not to feel left out. They help each other get through the school day and enable them to become more confident participants within the school.
While the actions of the 1st group can be easily justified or explained away as tough love, or being playful rather than intentional, this kind of constant name-calling and ‘picking on’ students can have negative long-term effects. The clincher is, more often than not kids, particularly younger ones often cannot verbalise or even recognise that they are being bullied. Bullying exists in various forms:
1. Physical: Pushing, punching, or hitting
2. Verbal: Name-calling or threats
3. Psychological and emotional: Spreading rumours or excluding someone from a conversation or activity
4. Cyberbullying: Mean texts, emails, posts, images or videos
If you believe that you have experienced the above-mentioned treatment in any way, shape, or form, here are some points you may bear in mind to seek help.
1. Learning to respond to bullying
No one deserves to be bullied, no matter how different they are from other kids. When other students pass comments about you on the basis of your appearance or other personal attributes (the way you may speak, walk, or any other facet of your being), it’s natural to feel bad or upset since such statements hurt you. You might even feel like retaliating by reciprocating that behaviour or expressing your anger, but this may not be the best approach.
Instead, learn to practise saying, ‘I don’t like it when you say that,’ ‘I don’t like it when you do that’ and, ‘Can you please stop?’ You must constantly remind yourself that every individual is unique, and there is no quality or trait that makes one ‘better’ than the other. This belief will always help you stand up for yourself.
2. Speaking to adults that you trust
It is common for children to feel that they are part of the cause and are at fault for being bullied. Sometimes you could also find it unnecessary to tell adults about it because it feels like you’re complaining or snitching against the bully. The fear of the consequence of telling an adult about being bullied can often stop you from protecting yourself. Sit down with someone you trust, ensure you feel comfortable and safe with them and let them know that you are going through a tough time. Adults can always help you with ideas to stop getting bullied and can implement a plan to ensure your safety and well-being.
3. Developing supportive relationships
Once you open up to near and dear adults, communicate your honest feelings and thoughts. Learn from your mistakes and be open about what solutions to curb bullying are helping you. Such positive conversations could help you cope better, slowly making you more confident to face the bullies head-on. Seek to understand from them how you can defend yourself and be assertive when the need arises. A similar network of supportive relationships can also be forged with your peers. Actively seek out like-minded peers within your school/classroom and make the effort to spend more time with them.
4. Focusing on what you enjoy
Being bullied is a harrowing experience. It causes stress and fatigue and doing the simplest things can be hard. Take help from your parents or teachers to address your mental and emotional state and seek their guidance to channel your energy towards something positive! Take part in activities that help you relax and make you feel good. Walking in the park, listening to music, drawing, dancing or playing sports are a few ways to recharge and look after yourself.
5. Being kind to yourself and others
Last but not least, you are never the reason for someone to bully you. Therefore, it is necessary to be kind to yourself. And don’t let this experience take away from your great qualities as a person. It can be difficult to exercise kindness and generosity towards others. Take support from your parents and teachers to relearn how to be kind to others. Your personal story could inspire courage in someone else, don’t forget to lend a helping hand to other students.
Bullying is a complicated social problem and it is everyone’s responsibility - whether they are a student or an adult - to address it. Creating a community of students with teachers and counsellors can help drive awareness and find ways to prevent bullying on the school premises.