HOW TO HELP A CHILD WHO IS THE BULLY?
The issue of bullying in schools has been a topic of discussion for years. Now that younger populations have access to social media and online learning, we have also seen a rising trend of online bullying, commonly referred to as cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying can be a worrisome issue for parents, schoolteachers, and tutors alike. What if your child or student is the bully? How can we support these students in making positive changes to end the cycle of bullying?
There is a significant body of research in this area, with some targeting the idea of a preventative approach to make sure our children don’t grow up to be the bully. It often comes down to very basic habits of open communication with your child. Talk to your child about their friends, take some time to meet their friends, and most of all, maintain open and honest discussion with your child. Sharing ideas and discussing issues with them has been shown to make it less likely that your child will bully his or her peers (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011).
Another key point is to model positive and effective anger management strategies at home. Having a positive model will help students to find constructive ways to handle conflicts and differences with their peers, rather than resorting to aggressive or bullying behaviours.This approach falls in line with research published by the American Psychological Association. They explained that the children most likely to become bullies or to be bullied are those who lack the skills necessary to problem-solve in difficult social situations (2010).
Some schools will try to address a bullying situation by completely removing the child engaging in bullying from the online group, class, or school altogether. Removal may not be the best way, as the evidence shows that preventive and interventionist approaches (taking steps when the situation occurs) are much more effective in curbing bullying. Whether a child is being bullied or is the bully, honest discussion, emotional support, and coping strategies are essential to helping change the social dynamic in which a child is engaged.
Below are a few resources that may be useful for parents and educators currently dealing with bullying issues.
Bullying Policy & Legislation for Quebec | PREVNet – Canada’s authority on bullying
Harassment, violence, and bullying in schools (loveorganization.ca)
Votre enfant subit de la violence ou de l’intimidation? | Ministère de l’Éducation et Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur (gouv.qc.ca)
American Psychological Association. “Who is likely to become a bully, victim or both? New research shows poor problem-solving increases risk for all.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2010
Society for Research in Child Development. “Children Who Bully Also Have Problems With Other Relationships.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2008.