Combating bullying in schools can be a challenging task as identifying the issue is not always an easy feat. Bullying doesn’t always present itself in a physical form - at times it is emotional abuse through insults, snide remarks and taunting. Incidence of bullying has seen an increase in Jamaica, especially cases of cyberbullying where the attacks are taken into the social media space. Here are some ways you can help to address the issue of bullying in school.


Children

Yes, children can play a part in helping to combat bullying in school. Here’s how.


  • Speak Up 

As the victim of bullying, you might be hesitant to report the matter to a member of staff. Speak to your parents or another trusted family member who can speak to your teacher or principal. If possible, such as in the case of cyberbullying, keep evidence of what has been going on. 


  • Look Out for Other Students

You might not be the target of bullying but you know someone who is or have witnessed it happen. Rather than turn a blind eye to it - bring it to the attention of an adult. You can also be a friend to that person because they will need someone to talk to. 



  • Treat Everyone with Respect

While you might not intend to be mean to your school mate, the words you use can affect them in ways you can’t imagine. If you realize that your words have hurt someone’s feelings - apologize. Accept that everyone has something about them that makes them different and that is ok. If you’re having a hard time being nice to someone, talk to an adult you trust and maybe they can help you understand why. 


  • Protect Yourself and Others

Bullying happens online as much as it does in real life. Be careful of what you share on your social media pages and the things you reveal about yourself to others. While it is good to trust your friends, remember that there are things that are personal and might be best kept to yourself. Don’t share or record content that could embarrass someone else because you could end up contributing to that person being bullied.



Adults

As a parent or teacher witnessing the effects of bullying on the children you care for, you might be feeling somewhat helpless. Here are some ways you can take action to reduce the cases of bullying. 


  • Address the Issue as Soon as Possible

As soon as a report is made about a case of bullying, look into it. Too often the sentiment ‘they’re just playing around’ or ‘it’s not that serious’. Adolescence is already a very delicate time. The added pressure of being harassed and not have it be taken seriously can cause long-lasting psychological issues. 


  • Discuss It as a Group 

Whether as a family unit, a class or school group, educating children and teens about the seriousness of bullying is a great start in combating the issue. Having open discussions will also encourage them to trust you if they are being bullied and can help possible bullies understand why they feel driven to bully others. This also presents an opportunity to discuss conflict resolution methods. 



  • Have Anti-Bully Policies 

Ensure there are ways put policies in place to reduce the chance of bullying and to deal with any issues that do. These rules can be part of the school’s handbook and posted in classrooms. Parents need to also be aware of these policies and contribute to enforcing them. 


  • Look Out For Signs of Bullying 

While children might not tell you that they are being bullied, there are signs to look out for. They might have physical scars - torn or dirty clothing, bruises from fights, or signs of emotional trauma such as anxiety or depression. In many cases, they will become isolated or start lashing out in anger too. 


  • Maintain a Healthy Home Environment

Often bullies pick on others as a way to deal with their own personal issues. They might not be getting enough attention at home, their family might be unstable or going through major changes. Take the time to teach them to accept the differences in others and to appreciate the things that make each person unique. 




With cases of bullying not only increasing but also getting more vicious, schools and parents need to take action to protect children. What are some other ways you think this can be done?