It’s no secret that school bullying is a major problem among teenagers in secondary schools all over the world. Teens often suffer bullying due to their nationality, gender, physical or mental disability, race or religious beliefs. However, bullying is not limited to the secondary school level. From many of the chilling bullying stories being released in the news today, it’s quite obvious that primary school bullying is on the rise. How prevalent is bullying at the primary school level? Time will tell. However, parents should be on the lookout for signs of bullying in their young child’s life and be prepared to take action to curtail this abuse before it gets out of hand. Learn about Bullying in Primary Schools in The United Kingdom.
What Actions can be Characterized as Bullying in Primary Schools?
Bullying takes on many forms – perhaps the most common is physical abuse. At the primary school level, children may be pushed, pulled, kicked, punched, have their hair pulled or hit with objects as part of bullying abuse. Verbal bullying could entail anything from name calling to teasing, being laughed at, threatened, lied about, ridiculed and more. At the primary school level, it’s quite typical for bullies to pick on younger kids to get something from them such as lunch money, homework or personal property. Gesture bullying, a relatively new form of bullying among younger children, can range from making threatening gestures to mocking a person’s walk, talk and personal appearance.
In essence, any action that makes a child feel hurt, frustrated, fearful, unloved, isolated or humiliated in front of others can be classified as bullying. Young bullying victims often feel intimidated to talk about these negative experiences with parents or teachers, further contributing to the problem. Over time, however, parents or teachers may notice a marked change in a child’s behaviour as an indicator that something is wrong. Outgoing children may become more reticent; happy children may show signs of moodiness and anxiety. Students who normally enjoy school and do well in their studies may begin to lose interest or become fearful or negative about school altogether.
In a smaller primary school environment, signs of bullying may be more evident as teachers and school personnel are generally more aware of what’s happening on school grounds. In smaller school settings, teachers often become better acquainted with their students. This gives them an advantage in noticing changes in students’ actions and behaviour. Conscientious teachers will make an effort to find the root of their students’ problems which may lead to uncovering bullying activity.
Why Do Children Resort to Bullying in Primary Schools
The reasons behind bullying are as many and varied as the bully himself. In some cases, children who bully at school are actually victims of bullying activities at home by older siblings or other family members. Bullies are not always the biggest and baddest child on campus. Even sweet and demure children can partake of bullying activities due to peer pressure or wanting to be accepted by their classmates.
Children who bully are often lacking love and attention in their home environment. Their bullying actions may merely be a way of getting noticed and putting them in the “limelight.” Some kids bully out of selfishness and the desire to get what they want from others. They were never taught the virtues of kindness, respect and preferring the needs of others. Their world revolves around their personal wants and desires.
Jealousy and resentfulness may trigger bullying, even in young children. A shy girl may be jealous of a classmate’s outgoing personality that lets her make friends easily. A boy of average intelligence may resent a smart boy’s aptitude and skill. A plain girl may begrudge girls who are prettier and more popular, and the list goes on.
Children are also quick to make fun of what they don’t understand. Teasing and ridiculing others who are different in appearance, aptitude, religion, nationality or color is a very common form of primary school bullying. Kids who are left to their own devices can be quite cruel in putting down others who don’t conform to what they feel is the “norm.” It’s not unusual for primary school children to isolate classmates because they’re too fat, too studious, non-athletic, mentally slow, physically disabled or of a different nationality. Teachers can play a big role in curtailing bullying by taking time to address these issues and teach their students more loving and respectful attitudes and behaviour.
How Schools can Combat Bullying in Primary Schools
Most schools have an anti-bullying strategy outlining what to do when bullying takes place on school property. Unfortunately, not all schools follow through with their campaign due to lack of time, interest or resources. As a parent, you can do your part to encourage school officials to uphold their anti-bullying standard by becoming involved in what’s happening in your kids’ lives. At the first sign of suspecting your child may be a victim of bullying, you can approach his teacher to talk about what’s going on. As more parents take interest in their children’s welfare and education, schools are more apt to respond by taking problems with bullying in primary schools more seriously.
Another way that primary schools can combat bullying is by making it difficult for these activities to happen. Adult supervision can be a great deterrent to bullying, especially in such areas as the school cafeteria and playground. By keeping a more diligent watch over their students in these key locations, teachers may be able to nip bullying incidents in the bud before they have a chance to flare up. Teachers also have a moral responsibility to their students to teach them right from wrong. Their moral input could be a tremendous help in curtailing abusive behaviour. Through encouragement and praise, teachers can help boost their student’s confidence and sense of worth so they don’t feel they have to resort to bullying to get the attention they need.
How Parents can Combat Bullying in Primary Schools
As a parent, you can combat bullying by spending time with your children and building a close relationship of trust and love. When troubles arise such as bullying, your kids will be more apt to confide in you to get the help they need. Children need caring adults in their lives who can help them resolve difficulties that may arise. Kids also crave personal affirmation from those they love to grow in confidence and self esteem. As your children grow older, you can teach them communication and problem solving skills that can help them deal with bullying and other situations they may face in their lives.
Recognizing signs of bullying in your children is part of being attentive to their needs. Such signs may include:
- Physical injuries such as bruises or scratches they can’t explain away
- Fear or anxiety of going to school
- Unexpected illness (tummy aches, headaches, etc.)
- Lack of interest in school
- Aggressive behaviour
- Lack of appetite
Many children don’t feel confident talking to anyone about being bullied. The bully may threaten them with more harm if they tell or may convince them they deserve to be bullied due to being different or lacking in some area. If your child is ostracized by his peers, he may feel the bullying is his own fault and may prefer keeping the whole situation a secret for fear of being further rejected by those he loves.
As a parent, be prepared to demonstrate a lot of patience and love with your kids to get them to open up. Once they confess to being bullied, stay calm and reassure them of your love. Most children are sensitive enough about bullying as it is without your getting upset and distressing them more. Take time to talk things out with your child, listening to what he has to say and helping him to distinguish right and wrong reactions on his part.
It’s important for parents to reinforce the principal that all forms of bullying are wrong and not the victim’s fault. More than anything, your child needs your support and love. By discussing the situation openly and honestly, your child has an avenue in which to express his feelings, doubts and fears. Talking together also gives you the opportunity to come up with practical solutions to his bullying problems so he can move on with his life.
Primary school bullying poses a threat to the security, happiness and education of our children. Recognizing that bullying is a problem in our primary schools is the first step toward finding practical, long term solutions. By educating children on the negative aspects of bullying and promoting positive, constructive attitudes and behavior, parents and teachers can take a united stance against bullying to help eradicate it from our schools.
Primary schools should provide children with a safe and inspiring learning environment. By combining their efforts, parents and teachers can pave the way for kids to learn and grow in a caring and supportive school atmosphere without the fear of being bullied for their looks, actions or beliefs.