When my colleague Amaka wrote last week, “Is Bully Really A Part of School Life?” I didn’t think twice about the topic because by 1986, in most Unity Schools across the Federation, Federal Government Colleges had abolished bullying and established separate dormitories for both senior and junior students, it was believed that this would curb the prevalent bullying in schools. I was surprised when I received calls from friends commending the article and drawing my attention that this is still very much with us as it was then. If anything, it could be worse. A lady narrated how her daughter in primary school has been under constant bullying by her classmate, telling her that her food stinks and she should not eat it until she gets home, the poor little girl did obey and did not eat until she got home! My goodness, what effrontery! Some parents said their children were constantly bullied by their class mates by calling them names such as ugly, b***h, witch, scareface, hideous, etc. Others had their lunch poured out, their drinking water urinated into and the tales can go on. My ears were filled with horrible stories and I wondered if these were happening in Nigeria or some other country. Sadly enough, all my callers were from Nigeria and mostly in Lagos. It was a rude shock to me. We are yet to get over the murder attempt saga of highbrow School in Lekki, where an 11-year-old female pupil, who escaped being killed by her 12-year-old classmate, has been reportedly withdrawn from the School, while the offender expelled. Now these horrifying tales begin to sprout.
This is what I think every parent should know about Bullying
What is Bully? Here stopbullying.gov defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.” This site also explains different types of bullying.
How to help your children to avert bullying. Why are some children bullied while others aren’t? In this article, How to bully-Proof your child you will get 3 tips for bully-proofing your child.
Is It Bullying or Ordinary Meanness? by Eileen Kennedy-Moore over at Psychology Today. What counts and doesn’t count as bullying and why it matters. She explores the different attitudes of children that may be bullying or meanness.
Cyberbullying basics. Ah, yes, there’s a whole new mean in town. Cyberbullying “includes mean text messages or emails, rumours sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.” Cyberbullying is becoming a huge problem especially among teenagers. This page gives parents basic information about how and why it happens and what they can do about it.
A friend narrated how her friend’s daughter nearly committed suicide because her friends in school called her names and shared her photos in their class WhatsApp group, calling her fat and ugly and above all couldn’t roll her bums and that is the reason no boy in school wants to talk to her. Don’t get it twisted, this is happening Nigeria!
5 Signs of Sibling Bullying. Most siblings squabble, but generally this is pretty harmless when there is a tone of warmth in the relationship after these squabbles. Some behaviour, though, rises to bullying and can lead to serious emotional harm to the weaker sibling. Here are 5 signs that sibling fighting might really be a bullying problem and 5 tips for addressing it.
Sibling Bullying Linked to Later Depression. We don’t want to admit that one of our children might be bullying another, but it happens. In this study published by Pediatrics, children who were bullied by a sibling were far more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression in adulthood. “Social learning and how to behave with peers starts at home, and when siblings are bullied it can have serious long-term consequences as we found in our study. It is important that parents set clear rules about what is allowed in conflicts and they should intervene consistently when their children maltreat each other repeatedly.”
Bullying is always in the news. Most recently there was a story about a mom who hit a child on a school bus because he was bullying her daughter. Taking matters into her own hands was certainly the wrong thing to do. Unfortunately, many parents feel alone with the problem when it occurs and doubtful that their child’s school will help.
Child and family therapists, believe that our schools need to take a greater role in handling bullying. The schools are in a position to provide more protection and support to children and their parents. Bullying occurs for a large part within the school’s perimeters- during recess or right outside the building. Schools have professionals available, and they have a real capacity to be the positive force to diminish these occurrences. Here are some important steps schools can take to remedy this problem:
- As part of the curriculum, students should learn to identify bullying language and actions in themselves and others. They should also be taught positive communication skills. This knowledge will help create a more positive environment where bullying is less likely to occur.
- There should be an established system for a child to report being bullied (anonymously, if needed) and get immediate help. A counsellor and other professionals should meet with the children involved and their families to determine a solution.
- There should be classroom discussions about the motivation and effects of bullying to sensitize students and promote self-awareness. Children should understand that bullies are children who have experienced some form of bullying themselves. They behave aggressively in an attempt to retaliate. They are children who feel powerless and suffer from low self-esteem. They attempt to heighten their self-esteem by surrounding themselves with other children whom they can control, who often feel insecure themselves. Bullies then find someone to diminish in an attempt to inflate themselves. It should be emphasized that children who are bullied suffer terribly. This education can help the children to make better, more positive choices and to become the school’s partners in eliminating bullying.
- Professionals should teach the children skills for handling bullies through role-playing and other technics. For example, the students can write plays and act out different bullying scenarios in the classroom. Each child should act out being the bully, the bully’s supporter and the victim, to gain a more tangible understanding.
- Counselling should be available to kids who are bullied, for the bullies and for those who help the bullies. When needed, these children should be referred to outside therapists for on-going help.
- There should be school-wide events that focus the student body on bullying, for instance, “Bullying Awareness Tuesdays.” There could be activities in each class such as designing slogans to put on the walls such as: “It’s wrong to bully others” or “It’s wrong to go along with a bully.” A child who reports bullying should be rewarded.
- Schools should have strong repercussions for bullying. Bullying is now an illegal offense and there should be 0 tolerance for this behaviour. At the same time the official a real effort to get to the bottom of the cause, by discussions with the child’s family and the child are essential. Families need to examine their family relationships and make sure there is no bullying going on at home.
- If your child’s school has no support system in place your parents’ association should lobby for the school to develop one.
Bullying has been a part of society since it’s inception, and will not easily disappear. But with the joint effort of the schools, the parents and the children, going to school can become a healthier, safer experience.