Anna’s top tips to Beat the Bullies

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Anna Williamson

For many young people, going back to school is exciting and fun. But for a huge proportion of children, school can be a nerve -wracking and fearful experience. For some it may be a feeling that passes quickly and easily. But for others - sadly a growing number of children - bullying can be a huge issue, which in turn can lead to solitary suffering, negative feelings and problems coping at school, and at home.

Support from family, friends and indeed the school is so important in helping identifying and dealing with bullying. I speak to lots of children who are suffering at the hands of bullies, and they often reveal that it is too scary and embarrassing to tell someone about it.

Anna with Buddy - Childline

Anna’s top tips to Beat the Bullies

· Young people are telling us that bullying follows them around. It’s in the playground and the classroom, but also on their devices – it’s in their pocket. You used to be able to close your front door and have some respite, but social networks are integral to their lives now and they can feel really low because they can’t escape it.

· Encourage your child to, and perhaps implement, some downtime or “time out” to give them a rest from their phone/social networking. For example, make a rule that the phone stays outside the bedroom when its “lights out”. Talk to your child about this, explain why, and ask their thoughts on what you’re suggesting, and in turn listen to what they have to say. Together reach a mutual decision, this should help take the pressure and responsibility off your child, and in turn demonstrate your caring and understanding.

· The good thing about social networks is that they give children the power to support each other. Encourage your kids to stick up for their friends, to send them supportive messages, and remember that they can report, block or delete people and comments that upset them. By encouraging children not to suffer alone, and to look out for their mates, is a huge part of identifying and tackling bullying issues, and indeed bringing it out into the open.

· The back-to-school feeling can be overwhelming, especially if they’re worried about returning to school because of bullying. The best thing to do is talk about it with someone trusted – a friend, a parent or ChildLine. As a parent offer that opportunity up, ask your child about how they’re feeling about school, choose an appropriate time and create a calm safe environment to allow your child to talk.

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· Encourage your child to talk to you if there are aspects of school that worry them, because children may have difficulty speaking up – they might feel silly or embarrassed. Assure them that they can tell you anything that’s on their mind, give them the time they need to open up, and most importantly, listen.

· Going back to school or joining a new school can be a big upheaval. If there is a problem in your child’s school life, be prepared to take it to the school – but work out a way forward between you and your child so they’re part of the process. Team work between parent and child is both powerful and important in helping to tackle issues.

· Parents can also check out NSPCC’s advice about listening to your children on nspcc.org.uk

ChildLine is a free, confidential service for children and young people in the UK. Call 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk.

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