We can all conjure up a mental image of a ‘bully’ – someone mean, troubled, and angry who takes out these feelings on others. You might imagine a person from your life or a character from a film or television show. But what happens when the ‘bully’ in question is a child in your care?
This is a reality many parents and carers are facing, especially as cases of cyberbullying are rising. It can be embarrassing and heart-breaking to find out a young person in your care has engaged in bullying behaviour. The most important thing to remember is that a bully who is a child is still a child.
“You can’t get away. The bullies follow you into your house. You used to be able to keep your head down and let it pass, but now…you can’t.”
– A quote from a victim of cyberbullying,
Anti-Bullying Alliance Report
Why do children bully?
What can I do to help?
After privately discussing this behaviour with your child, take some time to pause and reflect before taking any next steps. If possible and appropriate, facilitate a meeting with the other child involved and their parent or carer, involving your child’s teacher if necessary. They may have helpful insight into the situation and may be able to facilitate classroom intervention if necessary.
Remember: bullying behaviour is not a reflection of who your child is as a person. They are still figuring out appropriate social skills, some of which do not always translate into online interaction. With the right support from adults who care, children who bully can and do change their behaviour. Helping them learn to apologise and interact appropriately will teach them how to be responsible for their actions and will benefit their future.