The 16th of March is an important day in the fight against bullying. This is the date of the 2018 National Day of Action Against Bullying & Violence (NDA). The NDA is the main anti-bullying event for schools, with over 3814 schools already registered to take part this year .
The initiative represents a powerful opportunity for schools, children, teens and parents to take a united stand against bullying. This will be facilitated through virtual classrooms, learning activities, games, and open conversations about bullying.
‘The NDA is a positive day of action that provides a focus for school communities to talk about the importance of working together against bullying and violence. The NDA has a range of new and thought-provoking materials to make the day a great success. Official NDA schools have access to printed materials, including student pocket cards and parent information cards which provide tips on how to deal with bullying .’
Don’t Stand By, Stand Up – What Would You Want Your Child To Do If They Witnessed Bullying?
If our children see bullying, either online or in person, what is it that we as parents should expect them to do? Bystander mobilisation is a powerful way to stop bullying very quickly, as when someone else steps in to support the victim, the bully tends to walk away. But standing up does take bravery, confidence and action. If your child understands that this is an option, they may just find it in themselves to step-up.
‘Yet it’s often bystanders who can influence a significant change in the bullying intensity and behaviours. Bullies enjoy having an audience and are far more likely to stop doing what they’re doing if their audience disapproves. A 2016 Australian parliamentary research report states that when a peer or bystanders do intervene, bullying stops within ten seconds; much more quickly than if an adult does the same thing. Education is required so that bystanders can be defenders, stand up for victims, or, if that is not possible, walk away to deprive the bully of attention.’
Speak to your child about being brave enough to stand up and stop bullying. American teen, Carson Jones, stepped in to protect a bullied girl at his high school and subsequently changed the culture of his school, as well as the life of another student . Carson admits he had a very good life at school and that he had no idea that anyone was bullied. He was the starting quarterback of an undefeated football team and life was easy for him. Through the simple act of inviting the victim, a teenage girl with developmental issues, to eat lunch with the football team, Carson sparked changes in his school and in the behaviour of his peers. As a parent, imagine how proud you would be of your child’s compassion and initiative if they were to do the same thing. This example reinforces how important it is for children and teens to be aware of their own role in helping to prevent bullying.
Bullying Awareness Both Online and Offline
Bullying is more than a playground issue; it is an online issue as well. Cyberbullying can be much harder for parents to see, unless they know what to look for, and how to look for it. Cyberbullying is continually brought to the forefront of public conversation, with increased calls for awareness in the wake of tragic, preventable deaths.
The 2018 National Day of Action Against Bullying & Violence is a day for us as parents to recognise that we need to be on alert for our children being bullied. Equally, it’s critical that we protect our children from becoming bullies and cyberbullies themselves.
How Do You Know If Your Child Is Engaging in Cyberbullying?
There is no definitive way to know if a child or teen is involved in online bullying. The most direct method is simply to talk to them and observe their socialisation in the real world. If your child is aggressive or exclusionary towards others in real life interactions, then they may also be acting this way online. Some parents find it effective to monitor the online habits of their children, preferably in real-time.
It can be upsetting to discover that your child is engaging in bullying behaviour. However, remember that all children make mistakes. As parents, our role is to guide our children and prevent any further involvement in bullying or cyberbullying. Some strategies you can adopt to discourage your child from bullying include :
Focus on the development of your child’s social skills by finding opportunities to involve your child in positive social interactions both with children and adults
Talk to your child about how it feels to be left out or teased
Encourage your child to be honest about their behaviour and apologise to those they have bullied
Identify activities where your child can be successful or feel good about themselves such as an art class or sports club
Why Do Kids Bully?
The reasons behind children exhibiting bullying and cyberbullying behaviours are varied. The belief that they will not be stopped or caught is a major factor, especially with cyberbullying, which is done behind the perceived safety of a screen. Children who struggle academically are more likely to bully, as are those who have experienced rejection and come from troubled homes .
Bullying is more likely to occur in schools where the culture is not as positive as it needs to be. The NDA aims to facilitate changes in schools to create a high social standard that encourages children to treat others with respect and kindness. The goal is to make this culture the norm, not the exception, in schools across the country. If your child is in a school where they are expected to be kind, and being unkind is seen as a problem, then they are far more likely to behave as expected . Raising the social standards in schools is the ultimate goal of the National Day of Action Against Bullying & Violence.
Stop Bullying Now – Get Involved
As a parent, you can get involved in the ‘National Day Against Bullying’ this Friday the 16th of March. You can start by checking if your child’s school is registered to take part and encouraging them to participate. We also urge parents to use this opportunity to talk to their children about bullying and to discuss the differences between what is ‘drama’ and what is bullying. Many teens today don’t equate their behaviour with bullying. If their peers are also doing it teens can often shrug these interactions off as ‘drama’. They are able to justify this behaviour in their minds, which is why this day of awareness is even more important. There is an active NDA Facebook page, which has up-to-date information about how you can get involved and reach out to help others in the community . So get involved and help put a stop to bullying.