How Can We Protect Our Children From Bullying

With this new series, my intention is to help foster and nurture an open and profound bond between father and daughter, one that transcends the awkwardness of puberty. (I wrote about it in more detail here.)

And in that spirit, I’ve agreed that once a week I will answer – honestly – any question my husband puts to me.

This week, hubby’s question overlaps with a mini-series I’m writing about bullying.

HubbyLast week we spoke about grooming. That’s the more scary aspect of an online presence – but there is another (arguably less dangerous) problem: trolling. Or just plain bullying from people you know. Any ideas on how best to deal with this one?

MeMy readers won’t know, but this is something we first touched on at home some time ago, in a more general sense. At the time, I was very keen to explore bullying, but I felt ill-equipped and wanted time to think and research.

I’ve had that time, and I’m not very much further forward. Here’s my dilemma:

I don’t have any answers. I see holes in every possible solution – they may work…but they may just as likely not.

The ‘usual’ options available include ignoring the perpetrator; appealing to their better nature; involving an adult; getting physical. But I’m not convinced that a single one of these is a solid way to proceed.

Were you bullied as a child? I know I was. Even now with an adult’s perspective, I still don’t know how I could have fixed the problems. And it really is a problem when you’re in that situation. For any adult who hasn’t experienced it, I can completely appreciate how it may seem innocuous; petty; juvenile; and basically quite trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Only it’s much more than that when you’re in it.

Being terrorised can affect your whole life. I mean that in a two-pronged way as well:

  1. It can tip over into every aspect of your life;
  2. It can continue to influence you far into adulthood.

Naturally it won’t be true of every case, but in many circumstances childhood bullying can be the reason for a person growing up to be shy or awkward, or lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem.

This is not okay.

So then – how do we deal with it?

In terms of online harassment, it’s all very similar to that which we spoke about last week, ie. education; limited exposure, etc. And so this week I’m focusing more on bullying in schools.

I’ve been trying to come up with a workable solution, and I’ve failed. The biggest breakthroughs I had are really quite pitiful:

  1. Be sure to bring our children up in such a way that they are unlikely to be targets.
  2. If things ever got bad enough, pledge to home school.

But these feel like cop-out ideas, because they’re not facing the problem and dealing with it. The first is a clutching at straws, and the second amounts to running away. I’m not sure either is a good model for how I wish my children to problem-solve. I want to arm them with the tools to take on difficult tasks and find a way through them.

So ultimately, this post throws up more questions than answers.

  • Do you have any other ideas for how best to combat bullying in schools?
  • Have you ever put any plan into action and seen favourable results, either as a child or as a parent?
  • Do you think being bullied as a kid has negatively impacted you as an adult?
  • Or do you, perhaps, think it’s less prevalent or less of an issue than I’m making it?

It’s something which causes me a lot of concern, and I would dearly like to see it stamped out.

Sadly, for as long as there remain adult bullies in the world, so there will be children who emulate this behaviour (of which more next week).

And the week after, I’m thrilled to be bringing to you a very fascinating insight into bullying, from youth expert Sarah Newton.

Like this? You can check out more of my hubby’s ponderings (and my attempts to answer them) here.

19 Comments

  1. Great post. I try to keep my youngest 2 away from being online to much. Thankfully they are not bothered to much about social media sites yet..

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      I wonder how much will change by the time my daughter is old enough. A lot I expect – but I imagine the fascination with social media is here to stay…

  2. Great post, as you say it’s difficult to advise kids about bullying until it happens and equipping them with ways of coping doesn’t always work xx

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      That’s my fear. Relying on prevention is scary, because there are simply no guarantees. Idealistically, I’d like to teach my daughter to stand up for others too – but even that could make her a target…which becomes a bit of a moral dilemma for me. X

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      It’s awful, isn’t it. ? Please let me know if you find a solution… Thanks for your comment x

  3. There is no easy fix for bullying that is why it is so difficult to deal with. But we use a method of intervention now that involves dialogue between the bully the Victim and The bystanders to discuss the problems and find solutions themselves. Social training through circle time is also very important! (I live in Holland and it as an approach adopted here.) the idea is that we have to approach bullying together.

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      I love this concept – I’d be interested to see how it works in practice. I’m theory it’s a great idea, though I’m inclined to feel it’s very tough on the victim, and potentially a further way to harass the child being bullied if not handled incredibly delicately.

  4. My eldest daughter starts school in September and I worry for the world she is about to enter. She has already experienced bullying at preschool, which made her sad and it broke my heart. Thankfully the preschool were onto it and dealt with it perfectly. But I know that isn’t always the case and that I won’t be able to step in and protect as much as she gets older. x #TheList

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      Stories like this makes me so sad. Perhaps the answer is to focus equally much on educating our children about the dreadful harm bullying can do, as well as coping mechanisms. I’m not sure anything will make the problem disappear though. X

  5. It is easier to keep young children away from computers but sadly when they hit teenage years it is a challenge. We had online bullying issues with my son but thankfully the school were brilliant and it was all resolved

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      I’m sure the level of support from schools must have a huge impact on the success (or not) of dealing with the problem. Half the battle is with finding the right school then! Which I’m sure is more difficult than it sounds…

  6. Kerry Norris Reply

    Great post. I was bullied as a very young child and it was so severe that I moved schools. I hope I never have to do the same for my daughters x

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      Sorry to hear that. I’ve already made the decision that if ever it came to it, I’d pull my daughter out altogether and home school. It would be a last resort, but I would if necessary x

  7. I dread my children being bullied – their school has a terrible reputation for it – it is so sad. I know too, of adult bullies 🙁 Kaz x

    • Yes, seems nobody is immune sadly… But I’ve had a very interesting insight into bullies recently, which you can read about on the blog now!

  8. Great post, my son is only tiny but I already wonder how we’ll tackle the online issues when they happen and, you’re right, bullying is so difficult to find a solution #thelist

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      It’s a tough one. I just keep hoping that by talking about it we can hopefully work towards fixing it… Alas, I fear that’s naïve wishful thinking.

  9. A lovely post and well discussed, I don’t have kids yet but I am always worried about kids in general getting trolled or bullied online for being different or for whatever reason

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