What is bullying?
The Anti-Bullying Alliance defines bullying as ‘the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person by another, or by a group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. Bullying can be carried out physically, verbally, emotionally or through cyberspace.’
It leads to an outcome which is always painful and/or distresses.
Bullying is often aimed at people who are different, for example because of race, religion, disability or sexuality.
Disabled children may also experience forms of bullying like:
Manipulative bullying: where a person is controlling someone
conditional friendship: where a child thinks someone is being their friend but times of friendliness are alternated with times of bullying
exploitative bullying: where features of a child’s condition are used to bully them
Spotting the signs of Bullying:
It can be hard to know if your child is being bullied, there can be lots of tell tale signs to look out for if you notice a change in your child’s behaviour or mood
1. becoming withdrawn
2. coming home with cuts or bruises
3. regularly coming home with torn or missing clothing
4. refusing to go to school
5. struggling with school work
7. displaying signs of aggression at home
8. sleep problems
9. minor illnesses
10. self harming
Now these signs may not always relate to bulling, but can be a good indicator that something is not all well in your child’s life and can be a good indicator to perhaps approach your child to talk about what maybe causing this change in mood/behaviour.
Talking to your child:
If your child is being bullied try and talk to them. Some children may find it hard to answer to direct questioning so here are some tips!
Ask open questions that give the child opportunity to give a wider response
1. what did you do at school today?
2. who did you play with?
3. what did you play?
4. would you have liked to play with someone else or a different game?
5. what did you do at lunch time?
6. is there anyone that you don;t like at school? why?
7. are you looking forward to going to school tomorrow?
Bullying can have a massive effect on a child’s self-esteem and a good self-esteem in a child can be a great way for them to cope withe bullying, here are some tips on how to work on a child’s self esteem:
1. emphasis your child’s strengths
2. Give your child the chance to contribute to day to day activities, show them that you have confidence in their abilities
3. Make sure your child has chance to look after themselves
4. Put a picture of your child up on the wall in their room with families members, reinforce that they are part of a unit
5. Tell them that you have confidence in them
6. Spend lots of time with them and LISTEN!
7. Reassure them that you love them and make it clear that bullying is not their fault
8. Help them make friends, invite children to your home
9. Encourage your child to act as a good friend
10. Treat your child’s mistakes as learning experiences
11. Encourage your child to solve problems and make their own decisions.
Organisations that can help:
Anti Bullying alliance- www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk
Bullying UK- 0808 800 2222 or www.bullying.co.uk
Changing Faces- 0300 0120 27 or www.changingfaces.org.uk
Kidscape- 08451 205 204 or www.kidscape.org.uk
Childline- 0800 1111 or www.childline.org.uk
How can schools help children with special educational needs?
In England, from 1st September 2014, each school will be required to provide an SEN Information Report in addition to their inclusion policy and accessibility plans required under the Equality Act 2010. It MUST include information on how they identify and access children with SEN, the support provided for emotional and social development and what they need to do to prevent bullying.
When raising concerns with your child’s school:
1. Ask for a copy of the school’s anti bullying policy
2. Keep records of all the incidents
3. Take photos of any physical injuries
4. If your child is unable to attend school due to stress caused by bullying get this confirmed by your child’s GP
5. Ask the bullying to be recorded in the child’s individual education plan.
6. Work with the school to resolve the issue
7. If the bullying continues you may want to make a complaint
Not every disabled child is bullied but research suggests that disabled children are more likely to be bullied and that children with a combination of difficulties are more likely to be affected. This could be because:
1. negative attitudes towards disability
2. a lack of understanding of different disabilties and conditions
3. they may be seen as ‘different’, be doing different work or receiving additional support at school
4. They may not recognise they are being bullied
5. They may be more isolated and find it harder to make friends as a result of their condition
6. They may experience change, for example, moving from a mainstream school, or spending time in hospital
7. they may have difficulties telling people about bullying