Bullying is a sad fact of life for a large number of people. Commonly associated with playground children, bullying can lead to problems in later life. If a child is a victim of continual bullying, he or she may have problems with confidence and self-esteem in adulthood.
Bullying at school can take many forms. It can be physical or verbal abuse, and the emotional and physical affects can be damaging. A child does not usually have the mental capacity to understand why bullying happens. The victim of a bully will usually come to the conclusion that he or she has done something wrong and is to blame.
No child should ever be subjected to bullying, and at the first sign of bullying, it is important that the victim talks to someone about it. The schoolyard code, of course, frowns upon telling or squealing on bullies – but that is exactly what the bully is banking on.
Bullies usually pick on weaker children or children who are perceived as being different from others. Parents or teachers have the responsibility to look after the children in their care. They should be able to pick up on the signs that their children are unhappy at school. A bullied child may feign illness, for example, which can lead to the child truanting from school.
Children should be encouraged to talk to their parents or teachers if something is wrong. The child's worries should be taken seriously. If a teacher has been informed about bullying and the situation has not changed, then further steps should be taken.
Many schools now have anti-bullying policies, and teachers and head teachers take all instances of bullying very seriously. Make sure children realize that it is not bad to tell on a bully. It is likely that the bully is picking on more than one child, and telling a teacher will benefit everyone involved.
The first step a child targeted by a bully can take is to ignore the bullying. If the verbal abuse has no effect, the bully will soon become fed up. If bullying takes the form of physical violence, then there may be no resort but to tell a teacher or parent.
Parents or teachers should reassure children that it is not their fault if they are being bullied. The bully is to blame, and the child should be made aware of this. If a parent notices that a child is unhappy at school, then bullying may be the cause. However, keep in mind that children are not the only bullies. There have been many reports of teachers using intimidation with children, and this should also not be tolerated.