Faizel Patel, Radio Islam - 15-11-2019
With International Stand Up to Bullying Day being acknowledged on 15th November, the Human Edge says we can all benefit from learning to deal with bullying, whether it be on the school playground, in the boardroom or a rage-filled driver.
Helene Vermaak, Director at The Human Edge, says it would be awesome if people could learn to meet aggression, not with a hasty retreat or violent reaction, but rather with tried-and-true techniques for respectfully resolving differences.
"If we are able to teach our children peace-making skills from a young age, school violence could be spontaneously and skilfully met with displays of mutual respect."
Vermaak provides parents with the below tips that can assist them and children in dealing with bullying at school:
- Build a support network – children that are being bullied often feel isolated and alone. Help them surround themselves with friends that will support them and stand by their side when they are being bullied. There definitely is strength in numbers.
- Are there leaders at school that can help? This could be teachers or prefects that you or your child can approach
- Before approaching a representative of the school to have this crucial conversation with, be sure that you gather all the facts – what occurred, who said what and why?
- Share your good intentions – start the conversation with what you or your child would like to see as the outcome of the conversation.
- Describe the gap – factually describe what happened and compare this to what behaviour is expected.
- Ask an investigative question and listen to the response – once you have introduced the issue, without making acquisitions and, laid it out in a non-judgemental way, ask a question that will reveal whether the school leader is aware.
- Remind your child that they always have control over how they respond to the bully. If one approach doesn't work, there are alternative approaches. The situation can always be resolved.
Vermaaaks says many children aren't chatterboxes and as they get older children tend to share less, especially with their parents.
“ As a result, many parents may not even be aware that their child is being bullied.”
Vermaak says that there are many signs that parents can look out for and these signs may point to several issues, but she sites some easy to recognise behaviour changes:
- An attitude change to school and activities that they previously enjoyed.
- A feeling of isolation and disengagement – they will often bring this behaviour home, where the whole family will experience it.
"What we want to avoid at all costs is a child feeling powerless. This often results in them feeling stuck, leading to them reacting in a way that can make the situation worse or they may resort to silence and ‘just living with’ the situation.”
For Vermaak, perhaps the most important piece of advice is that if we build a sense of community that helps us humanise others. We recognise ourselves in them and treat others with the respect and kindness we all deserve. This will make the world a better place.