Talking to Children About Bullying
It’s Anti-Bullying Week (13th-17th November 2023), so we wanted to mark it with some proactive advice for dealing with bullying at home or in school. We include a bonus feature of how learning and talking about current affairs can give your children vital skills to prevent and avoid social issues like bullying.
According to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, as of 2022, 24% of surveyed pupils reported being frequently bullied, and 6% revealed they frequently bully their peers. The ABA connected both kinds of bullying involvement with poor wellbeing and lower satisfaction with school overall.
These figures show a snapshot of the impact bullying has on schools, therefore it’s important we arm ourselves as teachers and parents with the right tools and approaches to talk to young people and children about bullying.
How can a teacher or parent talk to children about bullying?
Consider your role
Making sure children know they can confide in you is key to getting to grips with any bullying issues happening in school, at home, or online.
Communicate openly with children, and present as a calming source of refuge. Your attitude can influence and help children divulge and seek help from you when they need it.
Listen openly… let them talk
Leave space for children to talk freely, without interruptions.
If children are hesitant to talk, avoid adding too much pressure. Maintain a calm and safe environment for your conversations; tell and show children they can trust you.
You can ask open questions to create more opportunities for talking.
Support and reassure
Let the child know that the bullying issue will be solved, and assure them you are a support network to navigate this.
You could let the child know what the next steps are and how exactly you will resolve the issue.
Remember – a problem shared is a problem halved!
Create coping methods
Whilst we can’t rectify bullying issues instantly, we can certainly devise coping mechanisms with victims of bullying to make dealing with it a little easier, until the matter is resolved.
This could include:
- Building children’s self-esteem and confidence. There are plenty of child-friendly books to help you do this!
- Remind children that bullying often happens as a cry for help, or due to difficulties in the bully’s life. Therefore, encourage children to do their absolute best to walk away or ignore the bully’s efforts. Don’t feed the bully with a reaction.
- Consider counselling. Trained counsellors can assist children to establish coping mechanisms. They can also help children navigate and heal the impact bullying has had on them.
- Have a healthy outlet. This could be something that the child can look forward to, such as exercise, or an extracurricular activity or club.
Talk to school
Parents can rest assured that schools have policies and guidelines in place to handle bullying cases, and they can help control and put an end to it.
Teachers are trained to deal with bullying swiftly, sensitively, and discreetly.
Knowing school are involved and actively working on the case may help the child feel better.
Create a healthy culture at home and in school
This tip relates to both school and home environments.
You can establish guidelines to stand by, either as a class, key stage, or household. These could be rules created by children, about how they should treat each other, what is acceptable behaviour, and what is not acceptable.
Having a broader approach like this may help curb the existence and impact of bullying, as it is centred on education, and gives children the wisdom to know and act on what is right and wrong.
Schools could also consider setting up a ‘buddy’ system, where older children ‘buddy up’ with younger children, to help them navigate school both academically and personally.
How can Picture News help?
Whilst you may not instantly draw a connection between teaching the news and promoting healthy bonds in school, Picture News can help you develop the emotional intelligence of your pupils.
Picture News resources teach broader lessons of acceptance, tolerance, and understanding amongst pupils. With each weekly resource, children have conversations rooted in news stories and learn to consider others’ perspectives.
The current affairs focus of discussion questions helps children identify, understand and articulate their own responses to events and issues, and encourages them to listen to and respect others’ thoughts.
This bigger picture of promoting respectful communication and empathy can contribute to your anti-bullying strategy in school.