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Bullying: The role of the parents

Bullying is a repeated behavior, intentionally aggressive, violent, and humiliating, which involves an imbalance of power: children who bully use their power (physical force or access to some embarrassing information, for example) to control and harm others.

Bullying can occur during or after school hours, inside the school but also outside (in the surrounding spaces, for example on the bus) and on the internet (for example, on social media).

Children who are victims of bullying may be despondent, less patient, are more remote from their family, more introspective, angry, or very irritable. They may feel constantly afraid, anxious, with physical pain (headache, stomachache, tiredness) and difficulty concentrating at school. Therefore, it is common for them to refuse to go to school, claiming, for example, that they are sick, and their academic performance is reduced. However, it should be noted that these signs do not always signify a bullying situation, as they also are common to other problems.

Other signs you can look out for include dirty, damaged, or missing clothes, bruises or sores without a coherent explanation, or even spoiled school supplies. Choosing an unreasonable route to and from school as well as avoiding taking the bus to school (being constantly late, risking missing the bus) is also a warning sign. Not talking about friends, having nightmares or crying are also frequent situations. Asking for more money or stealing money from family members is also a strong indication.

In many cases, children who are victims of bullying commit to the aggressor to remain silent in order to avoid retaliation. This happens because they feel fear and inability to resolve the situation, and they feel powerless in the face of the problem.

Parents can help their children understand what bullying is and how they can safely defend themselves. They can tell their children that bullying is unacceptable and ensure that their children know how to get help.

Children who know what bullying is can identify it and can talk about it if it happens to them or others. Parents can encourage their children to report bullying situations to a trusted adult (parents, teachers, psychologists, for example). Even when they cannot solve the problem directly, parents can provide comfort, support, and advice.

How to explain bullying to children?

Bullying happens when a stronger person hurts or scares a smaller, weaker person on purpose and repeatedly (often). Bullying isn't normal, it's not just silly pranks, and it's not just a boys thing.

What can children do to avoid bullying situations?

Avoid looking at the aggressor and keep your distance from him as much as possible. Preferably walk calmly and silently in the opposite direction.

Walking in groups at school, during breaks, and at recess, especially with friends or those who are nice to you.

Withdraw from everyone with whom you feel uncomfortable, anxious, scared, worried, or nervous.

Make a list of things you can say when someone teases you. Also, make a list of good things you can say to yourself.

Make a list of the places that make you feel insecure and not go there alone.

And when children cannot avoid a bullying situation, what can they do?

Being “evasive” (confused) when responding to the aggressor: “Possibly”. “You may be right”. "It may seem that way." "Maybe it's your opinion."

Annoy the abuser with questions about each insult: “Am I stupid? What do you mean by that? How do you know I'm stupid? Do you know any other fools? Did you compare me to them? Am I more or less stupid than they are?»

Be a "struck record": "That's your opinion." "I do not do this". Simply saying "no": "You can't have my lunch."

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