Breaking the Cycle

The following image shows how with positive intervention, the negative dynamics within a social culture can change to be more supportive of the victim, the bystanders and eventually the bully.

I will predict how my daughter's situation could have turned out had the school been pro-active in dealing with the bullying issues at the time of my early complaints.

A victim of bullying needs to feel understood, supported and validated. A bullied child needs to feel their family are behind them but also their educators. When educators fail to act to support a bullied child, this exacerbates their feelings of low self-worth and isolation, they feel unprotected and lose trust in those who are supposed to be protecting them. By the time a complaint of bullying comes to the attention of educators, it is likely it will have been going on for some time before the victim broke down to friends, family or a teacher.

The first action a school can take with a bullied child is to listen to them and take their concerns seriously, let them know the behaviour shown to them is unacceptable that it will be investigated and necessary action will be taken with children who are bullying.  This sounds so obvious but with all the pressures of a full timetable in a busy school, it is too easy for educators to pass bullying off as 'normal behaviour', 'a random tiff', 'something that will 'blow over' or even to brand the victim as oversensitive, or in need of 'toughening up'.  In my experiences throughout the last few years, I have come to realise that it is the adults in our communities who need to learn about the dynamics of bullying. Until we learn and model compassionate and supportive behaviour, bullying will continue in our schools and workplaces.

Other steps to help the victim - parents of victim and bully will be contacted for meetings if necessary and kept informed.  Teachers connected to the victim, bully and peer group will also be informed to keep a close eye. Depending on the seriousness of the bullying, the bully or the target child can be moved to different class/es if necessary and not paired with each other for activities.

Depending on the circumstances involved, effective boundaries and limits must be set with a Bully so they learn that there are consequences to poor behaviour. It is also important they receive support from the school counsellor to talk through any problems or challenges they are going through which may be causing them to project their anger onto others.

The most important step to ensure a positive school climate is to provide effective and regular relational education to all students. With this, Bystanders will start to realise how much power they actually hold within their peer groups. They hold the greatest numbers within a social peer group and when they decide to pull together, a Bully no longer receives the support necessary to hold control of a group and they themselves learn that their unhealthy behaviour is not effective in getting their needs met.

There are so many excellent, tried and tested anti-bullying programs out there today, there really are no excuses for situations of longterm bullying in any modern school.

An interesting article which relates well to this topic is 'The bully and the bystander'

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