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Doing something about bullying

"What bothers me most when we look at ways to stop bullying," writes Michele Elliott, author of the new book 101 Ways to Deal with Bullying, "is that increasing numbers of adults either seem to ignore what is happening or are just plain afraid to help." Child care workers cannot afford to ignore the problem. Below are some helpful tips from this important new book.

What is Bullying?
Bullying is the use of aggression with the intention of hurting another person. It results in pain and distress for the victim, who has in no way provoked the attack. Usually the bullying is a campaign against a child, but there may be just one incident. Bullying can be:

Signs of Bullying
Often children don't come right out and say that they've been bullied, so all parents need to be aware of the signs. Ask your child if he or she:

Who are the victims?
Most victims of bullying are sensitive, intelligent and gentle children who have good relationships with their parents. They don't come from families full of conflict and shouting, so when bullies attack them, they don't know what to do. From the bully's viewpoint, they make excellent targets because they are nice and won't fight back. They might even cry – a bonus for the bully. There are, however, some children who get bullied everywhere – at school parties, activities, clubs. It is as if they invite bullying because it confirms their low opinion of themselves – that they are worthless and deserve what is happening to them.

What sort of child bullies?
According to Elliott, children and young people who frequently bully do seem to share certain common characteristics. They often:

There are also bullies who are self-confident, spoilt children who expect, as their right, to get their own way. Some bullies simply enjoy being in charge and may obtain status from their position as leader. Other children may bully once in a while because of some sort of upheaval in their lives, such as problems at home, bereavement in the family, birth of a baby and so on.

Where is it likely to happen?
Bullying usually takes place out of sight of the school staff:

What to do if your child is being bullied

Is your child a bully?
Once in a while, a child could lash out and suddenly start bullying. Sometimes it happens because the child was being bullied himself and could stand it no longer. Be very careful not to start blaming your child until you have all the facts about why the bullying has started.

Possible reasons why a child may turn into a bully:

Some children go from incident to incident, from school to school, bullying and hurting others. These children may eventually end up being excluded from mainstream education. Many have certain characteristics in common. They may:

Some chronic bullies are children who are overindulged to the point of being worshipped by their parents and expect that everyone should do likewise.

Crack the code of silence

Experience has shown that bullying is less likely to happen in schools that have a clear policy against it.

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