Getting the school involved

After listening to your child you may choose to help him work through the problem himself.

But if your child is having little success then it is important that you contact your child’s school and look for joint solutions. However, before you enlist the support of the school staff, check with your child that it is okay to go ahead. One reason that children decline to inform their parents of bullying is that they fear that matters will be taken out of their hands. So involve your child in all steps of the process.

Your aim of working with the school is to find a solution rather than apportion blame or gain retribution. Many parents tell me that their child’s teacher won’t take them seriously or brush allegations of bullying aside.

Australian schools take bullying very seriously and go to great lengths to support and empower victims. If you don’t get the satisfaction that you want, either reconsider your approach to your child’s teacher or find the appro¬priate person in the school to handle the issue, perhaps the school counselor or even the head teacher. Any joint plan to handle bullying will be long-term.

As bullying is generally a secretive activity it is often difficult to make it cease immediately. Sometimes conciliation between children and parents is sufficient but often schools need to put long-term strategies in place that reduce the likelihood of bullying and also support children through counseling if the bullying continues to occur.

Support the school’s approach
Many Australian schools adopt a restorative approach to bullying and its subsequent behaviours. That is, the focus is on repairing relationships and ensuring problems won't be repeated in the future. The restorative approach often works best when a third party, such as a teacher or school representative is involved.

It can be powerful as the bully has to confront the person he or she has bullied, and look to ways to fix things up or repair the damage or harm they have caused. Seeing and hearing firsthand the personal impact of their bullying behaviours is a great learning experience for kids. If you know your child has been bullying others, this process is an excellent one for you to pursue, and support.

Recognise that it may take time
Stopping bullying can sometimes take significant time as the issues can be complex, and not every person involved is willing to bring about a change. Schools usually have a range of tried and true strategies to handle bullying behaviours over a period of time.