Have you been told your child is a bully? If so, don’t ignore the complaint. Get ready to help your child. Read on to know how.
By Susan Philip
The Bar Association of India defines bullying as 'systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students'. It goes on to say that the act of bullying 'may involve but is not limited to: teasing, social exclusion, threat, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, theft, sexual, religious or racial harassment, public humiliation or destruction of property'.
Bullying is a problem in schools worldwide and India is no exception. A nation-wide study conducted in 2015 by the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) and ParentCircle revealed that one-third of school children were bullied. In a survey conducted by the Teacher Foundation and Wipro Applying Thought In Schools (WATIS) in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Bhopal, Guwahati and 10 other cities over a five-year period, 42% of children between ages 8 and 12 years admitted to being bullied in school. Kshirsagar et al published a study titled, 'Bullying in schools: prevalence and short-term impact', in the journal Indian Pediatrics (2007). The study included children in the 8–10 year age-group from three randomly selected public and private schools in a rural area. The findings of the study revealed that 'there was no significant difference in the prevalence of bullying amongst boys and girls in co-education schools', though the incidence was appreciably lower in all-girls schools.
As parents, we always tend to worry about our child falling victim to bullying. But, what if it was the other way round and our child was the bully? We would need to be just as worried even then.
Let’s delve into the issue of bullying and find out how we can help our child who has taken to bullying.
There are many factors that can push a child to become a bully; however, the intention behind bullying is usually the same—to cause hurt to the victim.
In the case of a young child, bullying is usually a reflection of similar behaviour she may have observed in adults around her. It may also be that abuse is the norm in the environment in which the child is living in.
In slightly older children, however, the motivation for bullying may be more complex and could stem from various factors. These include:
An interesting fact about bullies is that they tend to bully those who they believe won’t complain about the mistreatment being meted out.
If you are sensitive to your child’s behaviour, you can pick up signals that would tell you that he is engaged in bullying, even before you get to hear about it from others. Some behaviour that you should watch out for are:
In addition, if you find that your child possesses stuff that you haven’t bought him and is vague about where he got them from, your parental antennae should go up.
As parents, when we are told that our child is a bully, our instinctive reaction is one of denial and disbelief. But, control that knee-jerk and take the complaint seriously. Make an effort to find out if the complaint is true. For, it may have serious consequences for your child such as difficulty establishing and sustaining healthy friendships and bonds.
So, the sooner you understand the underlying causes and address them, the better the chances of your child being able to shun the undesirable behaviour and adopt positive qualities.
Here are some ways to help your child get over the tendency to bully:
Taking corrective measures early will help your child overcome the tendency to bully and feel accepted and valued. Whatever may be the trigger for your child to indulge in bullying, assure her that you love her, and it’s only her behaviour that you disapprove of. Support her to overcome the trait by being sensitive and committed.
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