Bullying a tough issue to crack I think. Oh yes it is so easy to say that bullying is an unacceptable behaviour and all school have anti-bullying policies to ensure that all cases of bullying are dealt with quickly and appropriately but bullying can be a slow, insidious behaviour that creeps up on its target. It gradually strips self esteem so at first the target doesn't necessarily recognise what is happening, by the time it becomes apparent those involved don't know how to break the cycle and either stop the bullying or who they should go to to ask for help.
The child being bullied sees themselves as a victim and so their behaviour becomes that of a victim and they gradually isolate themselves from all those around them, they become defensive or aggressive, which of course means that other children instinctively wish to avoid them, thus making the cycle self fulfilling, leaving the target feeling alone, disliked and even suicidal.
Much research about the victims of bullying show that those who are different say in size, weight or looks are more likely to be targets of bullies, just as the bullies themselves often have issues in the background often at home meaning that they need to be in control or the aggressor in different situations. This research also indicated that victims are more likely to suffer from depression or self harming and bullies are more likely to commit crimes or become abusive within their relationships as they grow into adulthood.
So how to help those involved, well as I am dealing with a child who is currently a target of bullying I have thought long and hard about the best way forward. Firstly, I need to be in a position where my child can speak openly and honestly about how they feel. Then by validating those feelings we can move onto how to resolve some of those issues, this bit I cannot do alone. This is where I need the school to support. Fortunately our school so far has been fantastic, they will deal with the issues of the bullies directly and hopefully quickly but they will also support our child in how to deal with situations that leave children open to bullying and will help our child to find and make new friends. This will mean the rebuilding of self esteem and having a safe place to be at break and lunchtimes with other children who don't fit into the cool kids gangs you know the gangs of boys out playing football or the perfect girl groups. We know exactly which groups of people I mean as we have all experienced them, when we were at secondary school. They will listen and help find solutions to the problems raised. It is imperative that children who have been the targets of bullies learn how to avoid those situations, they need to recognise their amazing qualities, realise that they are worthy of having friends and that it is ok to be themselves. Once that self belief has become a part of who they are then they will fly!!!!