Even when power dynamics and relationships are being addressed within schools, incidences of bullying can still occur.
So what can you, as a parent, do if you child is involved in a bullying situation?
1. The most important thing you can do is to listen to them calmly and to let them know that you are concerned for them. Assure them that you take this experience seriously, and that you are pleased they have spoken with you. As you are listening keep in mind:
> We can all play the role of bully, victim and bystander in different bullying situations.
> Bullying involves repeated incidents designed to humiliate the victim within a relationship of power imbalance. Fighting between equals is unhelpful behaviour, but is a different scenario from bullying.
2. Encourage your child to think about the role that they played within the incident and to identify how they felt and thought at the time.
3. Encourage them to try to think about the role of the others involved and how they may have felt and thought – to empathise with the other people involved in the incident.
4. Let your child know that you do not agree with bullying and that you are going to support your child in developing capacities to address bullying situations.
5. Make a time with the school to visit and speak with the teacher closest to your child about the situation. The school may be unaware of the bullying and will need your assistance to understand the knowledge your child has given you. The school may also have additional information that you are unaware of to add to the discussion.
6. Work with the school in addressing the current situation and discuss how future incidents can be minimised and addressed. When you leave the meeting, make sure you understand what is expected from the school, your child and you, and make another time to check-in with the situation. Keep in regular contact with the school.
7. Remember, the school has access to additional support for your child if needed.
8. Remind your child that bullying is not acceptable and has no place in relationships and that all parties are working to support change in the situation. Encourage them to keep communicating with you and a trusted teacher at the school.