Bullying at school: How do you deal with it as a parent?

Pesten op school: hoe ga je hier als ouder mee om?

Bullying is never a pleasant subject. Especially when your child is being bullied, or when you yourself experienced it as a child, it can be a painful topic. But the consequences of bullying can also be long-lasting. That's why it's important for parents to intervene as early as possible if they suspect their child is being bullied at school. But how do you recognize if your child is being bullied? And how can you, as a parent, best address this? You'll find out here.

What is considered bullying?

According to the Dutch Youth Institute, "bullying is a form of aggression aimed at repeatedly hurting someone." Whether emotional or physical, it doesn't matter. Moreover, with the advent of the internet, the ways in which children can be bullied have also increased. This makes it more difficult for bullied children to find a safe environment where they can find peace.

How do you recognize the signs of bullying?

Is your child being bullied? Then it's important to talk to each other. However, it can happen that a child prefers not to share with their parents that they are being bullied. Shame or fear play a big role in bullying. But if your child doesn't talk, how do you know if he or she is being bullied? Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Withdrawal: Children often withdraw when they don't feel comfortable. They retreat to their room or are quieter at home.
  • Not wanting to go to school anymore: Going to school when you're being bullied is terrible. Children will do anything to avoid school. They complain of stomachaches or feeling 'unwell', anything to avoid going to school.
  • Fewer friends coming over: When children are bullied, it can have negative consequences for the friendships they have. Are fewer friends coming over suddenly? Then this could be a sign.
  • Poor sleep and nightmares: The stress and emotional rollercoaster that bullied children experience at school are taken to bed at night. Your child may sleep poorly or have nightmares.

Do these signs sound familiar? Try to start a conversation with your child. If this is difficult, you can also choose to have the conversation at school, with the teacher.

Bullying: what can I do as a parent?

As a parent, you may feel completely powerless when your child is being bullied. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take as a parent:

  • Keep talking to each other: Although this can be difficult, it's important to keep home a safe place to talk. If your child really doesn't want to talk about the bullying, try to involve a teacher or doctor.
  • Be there for your child: When children are bullied, their world falls apart. It's even more important for you as a parent to show that you're there for your child. Take your child seriously and stand behind them when the situation gets tense.
  • Monitor phones and social media accounts: Nowadays, bullying also happens online via social media. Check if you can block accounts of bullies or limit access to social media. Always make sure to take screenshots of online bullying. This serves as evidence. Also, if unwanted photos or videos are posted online, you can take action. Contact the website or account administrator to have the visual material removed.

Bullying is never enjoyable, but there are certain things you can do as a parent to alleviate the pain. Hopefully, the above tips help. If the situation really gets out of hand, there are also various organizations you can contact or read up on further as a parent.

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