Stop Bullying Now
Many of the MyLiferaft team are parents and have first had experience of talking to their children about being bullied either at school or online. During Anti-Bullying Week, we wanted to talk about, and raise awareness of how bullying can impact all children, but especially those with special educational needs.
As parents and guardians of children – there’s much more to worry about. From helping with homework to preparing packed lunches and meeting the teachers and classmates, we’re fully involved with every aspect of our child’s education. If your child has a disability, he or she may be seen as ‘different’ to their classmates and this can sometimes lead to hurtful and bullying behaviour.
Bullying & Being Disabled
Research from Bullying UK suggests that children are more likely to be bullied when they are vulnerable in some way and that sadly, disabled children are three times more likely than their peers to be bullied. A survey by Mencap discovered that eight out of ten children with a learning disability have been bullied. People’s assumptions and prejudices about disability can make disabled children more vulnerable to bullying for a number of reasons, such as:
- A lack of understanding of different disabilities and conditions.
- Being seen as “different”.
- Not recognising that they are being bullied.
- They may be doing different work or have additional support at school.
- They may be more isolated due to their disability.
- They may have difficulties in telling people about bullying.
- They may find it harder to make friends.
What is Bullying?
For some parents, it can be difficult to understand what constitutes bullying. Put simply, bullying can be anything from name-calling to acts of violence. Mencap outlines bullying as ‘repeated negative behaviour done on purpose to hurt someone. Often a person or group targets another person or group to make them feel embarrassed, insecure or scared.
Bullying takes many forms and bullying can happen to us at any age – not just in the playground. Bullying can take place anywhere – on buses, on the street, at clubs. And the experience can affect our mental health, self-esteem and even future job prospects. Different types of bullying directed at individuals include:
- Ignoring them & stopping talking when they are around
- not inviting them to social events
- gossiping or talking negatively about them behind their back and trying to get others to join in.
- embarrassing them in public & encouraging others to avoid contacting them
- It can also include physical bullying such as pushing, hitting, kicking and tripping
- stealing or breaking things owned by the person being bullied
- being pressured or forced to give money.
- Verbal bullying such as name calling, mocking the individual and threatening them
What is Cyber Bullying?
With the innovations in technology and social media in recent years, it’s now much easier to be connected to others online through the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or WhatsApp. As a consequence, there has been a rise in online bullying which can take many forms. According to Childline, cyberbullying ‘is using the internet, email, online games or any digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else’.
Examples of cyber bullying include:
- You might get hurtful messages in emails, chat rooms and forums
- You may receive nasty text messages
- Online social media like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp can also be used to send hurtful messages
- Being teased or made fun of online and having unpleasant comments being posted about you
- pictures or videos of you being shared publicly online that you don’t want to be seen
Sometimes cyberbullies target people anonymously or with fake accounts. Someone may pretend to be your friend, but then ask you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable, like send them a naked picture of yourself.
How to Help your Child
With the start of the new term, it’s the ideal time to explore how you can help if your child or a child under your care is a victim of bullying:
- Whether or not your child has reported bullying to you, the start of a new term is a great opportunity to discuss bullying with your child. Let them know that if they ever feel they are being bullied, they should talk to someone that they can trust. Reassure your child that nobody deserves to be bullied.
- What if your child tells you they are being bullied? Remember it can be extremely daunting for a child to talk about such a sensitive issue and they may have found it hard to confide in you, so it’s crucial to remain as calm as you can and listen to everything they have to say.
- As parents or carers, we’re constantly worrying about our children and can often tell when something isn’t right. Even if they haven’t reported anything to you, your child may show signs that indicate they are being bullied. BullyBusters have created a list of signs to look out for if you’re concerned or have noticed any changes in your child’s behaviour
- You will need to determine what the appropriate action to take will be, while making sure you keep your child involved with the next steps. This could be familiarising yourself with the school’s anti-bullying policy and arranging a meeting with a teacher if it’s a school-related incident, or helping your child block and report online bullying on social media.
- There are many charities and organisations set up to support you and your child in confidence, with help and advice from trained counsellors, and plenty of resources available online too.
There are many different organisations that can help and support you if you find that your child is being bullied. Below are just a few – you can visit the Resources page on our website for lots more.
“My personal experiences gave me a first-hand insight into the problems and challenges faced by parents in caring roles. I realised that gaps in knowledge between parents, carers, education and medical professionals became huge issues, and wished there was something I could use to hold everything we as a family knew in one place. Nothing can ever really prepare you for parenthood, and caring for a child with additional needs carries extra challenges. However there are ways to make life easier for everyone whatever their circumstances, and that’s what we have created with MyLiferaft – a tool which helps to manage all aspects of modern day living.” Nicola Mugatroyd – Founder & CEO MyLiferaft