Bullying in schools: What should parents know?

June 7, 2024  17:10

Bullying is persecution of one or two members of a certain team. Most importantly, it’s not just a one-time display of aggression, it’s aggressive behavior that is repeated again and again.

There are four main types of bullying: verbal, physical, social and cyberbullying, and each has a different approach. If bullying occurs at school, it is important to understand how the child can protect himself. In most cases, bullies target children who lack socialization skills, communication skills, and aggressive speech. Usually these children are unable to defend themselves and have no friends. Bullies know that if these children are bullied, no one will support them.

To understand what to do, it’s important to figure out whether this is constant bullying or just a friendly conflict where you need to stand up for your point of view. If it’s just a conflict, that’s one thing, but if you’re dealing with bullying, in some cases the right thing to do would be to just leave and walk away, to pay no attention, because the bully has one goal: to be the center of attention and get emotional satisfaction from the fact that “he won.” You can also try to laugh it off or divert everyone's attention to something else. The bullies want audiences to love them. The victim of bullying may try to divert the attention that the bully so wants to receive. The victim should also seek help from a psychologist.

Many problems come from the family. If a bully does not receive family support, if he lacks attention in the family, he will try to get it all at school. Bully also needs psychological support. It is possible that the bully will also have problems with his studies, lose interest in school, and become a delinquent in the future.

Victims of bullying face 4 main problems: academic problems (they lose interest in studying, are afraid to go to school), psychological (anxiety, low self-esteem), social (they lose friends, lose interest in any activity, are afraid of crowded places) and physiological (eating disorders, sleep disturbances, nightmares, headaches, colic; young children may also experience bedwetting).

In most cases, the victim of bullying thinks that everything is his fault, he blames himself, and as a result, his self-confidence and self-esteem drop. The parents must make it clear that they are there for their child, and no matter what happens, they love him and accept him.

If the school, teacher, parents cannot solve this issue, changing schools is one of the solutions to the problem. If you have tried everything, and the bully continues to operate, just change the environment, change the school. But the intervention of the school, the teacher and all parents is very important. The school must have its own security system. School leaders and teachers need to be clear about who might be potential targets of bullying and who might be potential bullies. They also need to understand where bullying can occur. These are usually locations where there are no teachers, like hallways, locker rooms, restrooms, or the back of the school. A safe environment must be created in these locations.

The teacher must have a clear intervention plan developed in advance. If he witnesses bullying, he must stop it immediately and not allow it to continue. However, he should criticize not the children themselves, but specific behavior. He must also separate the bully and his victim. If the victim needs help, the teacher must send him to a psychologist or another person who can talk to him and help him. The teacher should then talk to the bully and explain why his behavior is wrong. Contacting the bully’s parents is also a good idea. In addition, the teacher should give children knowledge about what bullying is.

Bullying happens in kindergarten, at school, at work, and at home. But why does it happen more often at school? Bullying is most common in sixth through eighth grades. Sixth to eighth grade are teenagers. What is adolescence? This is the discovery of the concept of "I." And there is also a clash between the strong and the weak.

There are several types of witnesses to bullying. There are witnesses who seem to support the bullies. They do not interfere with the process itself, but clearly approve of it. There are witnesses who do not rejoice, do not laugh, but still look at the bullies with enthusiasm. There are passive witnesses who do nothing and do not want to interfere in any way. There are also potential defenders who want to make a move, but don't know how or what to do. What can such children do? If they see a child being bullied, they can simply take the victim by the arm and lead him somewhere else. Or they may divert everyone's attention to something else. Afterwards, they can talk to the victim of bullying and support him.

Sometimes a witness to bullying wants to come up and support the victim, but at the same time, he has a strong desire to escape from this situation. And here a conflict arises. If the child knows what to do, he will come and support the victim. If he does not have such knowledge, he will run away. And in this case, later he may also have problems like anxiety, depression, fears.

People like to blame the victim. Even domestic violence is blamed on the victim. In difficult situations, people often say: “What did you do to make them behave this way?” The point is -- no matter what you do, no one has the right to do this to you. The victim-blaming mentality is fundamentally wrong.

Shoghik Mikaelyan

Shoghik Mikaelyan is co-founder and executive director of the Nor Luyce Mentoring Center for Youth. After graduating from the Yerevan State Linguistic University named after Bryusov, she qualified as an English language specialist and school psychologist. Thanks to a Fulbright scholarship at Lehigh University, she received a second master's degree and qualified as a psychologist-psychotherapist.

During her professional career, Shogik Mikaelyan worked as a program coordinator, director, and teacher in a number of reputable structures, such as the Peace Corps, the Depi Hayk Foundation, the Historical Houses of Armenia organization and others.

For a long time, Shoghik Mikaelyan was a member of the graduation examination committee of Shirak State University, and at the same time, on a voluntary basis, she conducted a number of trainings in her community. Since 2020, she has been conducting research among teenagers, identifying the phenomenon of bullying. She also conducts retraining for teachers on this topic throughout Armenia.

Currently, along with social activities, Shoghik Mikaelyan teaches at Shirak State University and provides individual psychotherapeutic services.

She is the author of a number of scientific articles, and also published a psychological manual, “Visual and Practical Approaches to Overcoming and Preventing Bullying,” intended for psychologists and social workers. She has also published a book on bullying called “Bullying: Adolescent Experience or Self-Empowerment?”

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