What is bullying?

bullying at school or college

There are a number of ways to define bullying. The Australian Psychological Society (APS) defines bullying as:

“Bullying is when a person deliberately and repeatedly hurts someone else. The hurt can be physical or emotional. Bullying includes hitting, pushing, name calling, leaving people out and teasing. If anyone feels scared or hurt when they are with someone, they may be being bullied. Bullying is a form of aggression that can escalate into violence. Children who are being bullied need adults to intervene and provide support.”

What this means in a school setting is a child who is experiencing physical, emotional, psychological or social harassment  on a continued basis at school. It may also occur outside school. For example, it can take place at the shops, a party, or in an online environment (cyber-bullying, e.g. social-media).

What is not bullying?

Bullying refers to an ongoing situation. It is not bullying if it is a once-off occurrence. For example, if one child has a disagreement with another child in the playground, and it is an isolated incident, it is not considered to be bullying.

How can I tell if my child may be being bullied?

It is not always obvious if your child is being bullied. These may be some indicator of bullying:

  • Does your child find excuses for not going to school, for example, being sick?
  • Does your child seem tense, scared, tearful and / or unhappy before or after school?
  • Does your child have unexplained bruises or scratches?
  • Does your child lose or have damaged possessions such as the school bag?
  • Does your child show difficulties with sleeping like nightmares or bedwetting?
  • Does your child talk about disliking school or other children at school?
  • Have you noticed any decline in your child’s academic performances at school?
  • Have you noticed any changes in your child’s usual behaviour such as acting aggressively, losing self-esteem, or losing interests in activities he / she previous enjoyed?
  • Does your child not have enough friends at school or does not receive party invitations?

What can I do if my child is being bullied?

  • It is not advisable to do nothing. It is better to do something sooner than later. Don’t wait.
  • Try and discuss the situation with your child. Sometimes children aren’t aware that bullying behaviour is unacceptable. Teaching your child about bullying behaviour might help them to recognise a bullying situation and to seek help if it occurs again.
  • Let your child know what you are there for him / her anytime to provide support. Many kids are embarrassed to say that they have been bullied in school, it is important to communicate with them on daily basis and find out what is happening about school, social events, classmates or any problems they have.
  • Let your child know it is ok to talk about bullying with you or a teacher.
  • Give your children positive feedback and praises when they behave well to help to build their self-esteem, which gives them the self-confidence to stand up for what they believe in.
  • Do not encourage your child to fight. It may lead to injuries, getting into trouble with school,  or beginning more serious problems with the bully.
  • Encourage your child to involve in activities outside school, so that he / she can make friends in a different social circle.
  • Most schools have clear programs / interventions to assist with bullying. Contact your school and discuss options with them.

How can Balance Psychology help my child?

Sometimes it may be easier for a child to speak with another person other than their parent or the school about their problems.

A health professional is trained in how to work with children and adolescents to help them understand their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Together we can help them create solutions or strategies to improve their situation.

Additionally, our psychologists can provide mentoring support to parents to help them to better understand and deal with their child’s situation.

Call us to discuss your options on 1300 855 601.