Bullying at school: how to help your child

Bullying at school is common and can have serious psychological consequences for the victims. Find out here what the warning signs of bullying are at school and how you can help your child if they regularly suffer from abuse from their classmates.

What is school bullying?

The term “bullying” comes from English and means something like accosting or harassing. But not every student who gets into a fight in the schoolyard is immediately a victim of bullying. Bullying is characterized by the fact that a specific perpetrator or a group of perpetrators regularly physically or psychologically torment a specific victim over a long period of time in order to exclude them. Laughing at, making snide remarks, threatening, embarrassing, spreading rumours, slandering, teasing, pushing, hitting, damaging school supplies, hiding clothes or extortion – all of these fall under the definition of bullying.

Who are the victims of bullying at school?

Bullying can occur at all ages and in principle affects everyone. The trigger is usually not the victim himself, but rather the group climate in a class. The perpetrators usually choose someone who has little support in the group. So it can be someone new to a class, who has few friends, who seems rather reserved and helpless, or who stands out because of a special appearance or behavior.

Who are the perpetrators of school bullying?

Bullying at school often takes place subtly during breaks or on the way to and from school, so that the teachers don’t notice it. The perpetrators are usually children or young people who are particularly self-confident and take on a leadership role in the group. They want to demonstrate their superiority through bullying or try to cover up their own weaknesses. Other reasons why someone seeks a victim of bullying can be jealousy or excessive competition.

Bullying at school by teachers?
Teachers can also bully students by embarrassing and ridiculing students in front of the class. If a teacher is treating your child inappropriately, you should definitely inform the school administration and, if necessary, seek help from the school inspectorate if the situation does not improve.

What are the consequences of bullying at school?

Bullying often has serious long-term psychological and physical consequences for the victim, of which the perpetrators in most cases are not even aware. The victim blames themselves, which severely affects their self-confidence and self-esteem. But the following aspects can also be effects of bullying:

  • sleep disorders
  • stomach pain
  • headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • school anxiety
  • concentration problems
  • loss of appetite
  • Frequent absences from school, truancy
  • Learning motivation decreases
  • nightmares
  • grades deteriorate
  • mood swings
  • Social isolation
  • eating disorder
  • depressions
  • suicidal thoughts

How can you recognize bullying in school?

When a child is being bullied at school, they often find it difficult to seek help because they are ashamed of the abuse. It is therefore important that you pay attention to certain warning signs in order to be able to recognize bullying as early as possible. For example, these signs can indicate bullying at school:

  • Your child suddenly no longer wants to go to school alone or wants to be driven.
  • Your child often has unexplained injuries.
  • Your child is withdrawing more and more and wants to be alone.
  • Your child will no longer be invited to other children’s homes and will no longer receive visits from classmates.
  • Increasingly, your child’s school supplies are damaged, they “lose” money or other valuables, and their clothes are dirty or torn after school.
  • Your child is sad and withdrawn.
  • Your child is reluctant to talk about school.
  • Your child often has inexplicable stomach pains and therefore wants to stay at home.
  • Your child’s school grades are getting worse and worse.

If you observe such behavior in your child, you should not wait and see whether the situation will improve on its own, but act quickly. Because the longer a child is bullied, the more difficult it is to find a solution to the problem, because the fronts harden and the behavior of victims and perpetrators becomes habitual. So it is better to talk to your child directly if you suspect that they are suffering from bullying at school and try to get to the bottom of the matter carefully. Listen carefully to your child, don’t blame them and let them know that they can tell you anything and that you believe them.

How can you help your child with bullying at school?

Bullying at school almost always requires outside help. That’s why it’s important that you inform your child’s teachers about bullying at school so that they can protect your child from bullying by their classmates and hold the perpetrators accountable. Together with the teacher you can work out a strategy how to solve the problem.

Under no circumstances should you address the abuser or the abuser’s parents directly. This could make the situation even worse because the abuser will take out their anger on your child or taunt them even more for seeking help. It is better to keep a detailed log in which you note all attacks. Perhaps your child can also team up with other classmates who are in a similar situation. Together they might be able to stand up to the perpetrator.

If your child needs further help, you can also contact the school psychological service or the school supervisory authority. The youth welfare office or educational advice centers also offer help for bullying victims.

Many schools have special training programs that practice social skills, behavior in a group or conflict resolution strategies with the students. This is intended to prevent bullying at school and to train the students to be able to react appropriately if they themselves become a victim or witness bullying at school.

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