At St Augustine’s we do not tolerate bullying or harassment in any form.
Next Friday the 15th of March is a key national event for student wellbeing and safety. It is a day that calls everyone in our community to acknowledge the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. This years theme is Bullying. No Way! Take action everyday. The day encourages students to take the lead and stand together against bullying.
At St Augustine's we will be talking about and promoting this theme in our classrooms over the week. Students will be involved in activities and discussions that look at what bullying looks like, sounds like, what to do if someone is being bullied and focus on strategies to promote positive behaviours. This also ties in perfectly with our school values and "No put down" motto. We will also be handing out pocket cards to both parents and students which include tips and advice on how to manage bullying so look out for these next week!
Today's article looks at the definition of Bullying and what you can do as a parent if this happens to your child. This is also a great opportunity for you to talk to your child about expected and unexpected behaviors.
What is bullying all about?
Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert).
Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying.
Behaviours that DO NOT constitute bullying include:
- mutual arguments and disagreements
- not liking someone or a single act of social rejection
- one-off acts of meanness or spite
- isolated incidents of aggression, intimidation or violence.
Bullying has three main features:
- It involves a misuse of power in a relationship
- It is ongoing and repeated, and
- It involves behaviours that can cause harm.
What you can do as a parent if your child is being bullied
It can be distressing to learn that your child is being bullied.
You need to consider what you know about your child and the details of the situation to make the best decision for your child. Different approaches and strategies may be necessary for various situations and individual children.
Bullying should not be confused with childhood bickering or squabbling.
Let your child know that you take the bullying seriously and that you can help them to report it to the school.
Some important steps are:
Stay calm and positive
Focus on identifying a solution with your child. Your attitude will influence your child. A confident, positive and resilient attitude can help to stop bullying from continuing.
Children can be reluctant to tell someone else about bullying. Sometimes children don't want their parents to become involved and are afraid of the consequences if they tell you and the person who is doing the bullying finds out.
Encourage your child to talk about what happened. Tell your child that reporting the bullying is okay. Assure your child that it is NOT their fault.
Discuss and practice strategies for face to face bullying
Discuss strategies with your child and set a short period of time to see if they can resolve the situation. Many students want to try to deal with the bullying themselves if they get useful tips about what to do.
If the bullying continues or increases, contact the school.
The below strategies are useful for some types of bullying. Use your judgement about their suitability for your child's situation.
For younger children, encourage them to try these strategies (if they feel safe to do so):
- ignoring the person doing the bullying
- telling them to stop, and then walking away
- pretending you don't care; act unimpressed or not bothered
- go somewhere safe
- distracting the other person or calming the situation (e.g. agreeing in an offhand way with the bullying when they say offensive or negative things—known as 'fogging').
Discuss how your child could behave around the other child. Explain that bullying is sometimes done just to get a reaction.
Practise with your child at home so they can use the strategies in situations they find difficult. Give feedback on whether they are getting their message across assertively and coach them until they are happy with their skills in:
- saying 'No' firmly but calmly
- standing and walking in a way that appears more confident
- deflecting the bullying with imaginary 'armour'
- giving a quick reply to surprise or disarm the other child
- using a casual response (e.g. okay, whatever) that implies that the child is not bothered.
Practising at home can help your child feel more confident about trying the strategies at school.
Do not advise your child to fight with the other child
Fighting with the other child (as distinct from defending themselves from a physical attack) can escalate the situation, and your child may be reprimanded for their part in a fight.
Discuss strategies for online bullying
The strategies mentioned above for responding to bullying also apply if the bullying is online. As well, you can teach your child how to be safe online, as well as supervising or limiting access to technology as appropriate to the child's age.
If your child is being bullied via electronic communication, encourage your child:
- not to respond to the message or image
- to save the evidence
- to block or delete the sender
- to report the situation to the Internet Service Provider or phone service provider; they can help you block messages or calls
- to tell other people—teachers and police if necessary.
Report the bullying to the school
At St Augustine’s all members of the school community work together to ensure a safe and supportive environment for your child. We work with families, listen to reports of bullying and act upon them in a fair and just manner. We will protect the person being bullied from further harm and act to stop further incidents of bullying.
It is important to:
Encourage your child to talk to their teacher or other staff, e.g. wellbeing leader, principal
Let them know that you will also report it to the school if the bullying doesn't stop after your child tries the strategies (or immediately if you think it is necessary for your child's safety).
Seek help for your child to learn about dealing with bullying
Discuss with the school ways to help your child (and other students) to learn about problem solving, conflict resolution, social skills, developing resilience, dealing with strong emotions, handling difficult situations and people.
A child who has been bullied can be at greater risk than others of being bullied again, even when the bullying has been dealt with.
At St Augustine’s we teach our children the skills which will build their self-esteem and empower them to take responsibility for themselves, and give them the opportunity to practise these skills.
Knowing how to deal with bullying and difficult people at school, at work and throughout life in social situations is an essential life skill
Our new Psychologist at St Augustine's
This year we have new Psychologist who works at St Augustine's. Maria Sulaiman is a registered psychologist who works every Tuesday to provide psychotherapeutic and counselling services to our school community.
If you are interested in this service or have any questions please speak to your child's teacher or Ms Jodie for further information.
Please refer to the link for information on Maria's services and fees. Letter to families 2019