You can understand why parents gloss over their children’s bullying issues. Our generation, and the ones before, had to deal with bullying in the most unpleasant of ways. We were instructed not to tell on the bully, but rather to stand up for ourselves or ignore them. Parents need to have the message reinforced that we know better now, and therefore should take these instances more seriously.
But what excuse do teachers and school administrators have? Remember, these are the same schools that are happy to parade their glossy brochures with lines like, “we offer a safe environment in which your child can thrive.”
They have no choice but to take an active role in ensuring that bullying doesn’t go unnoticed.
But many don’t.
There is a misconception among the wider community that nowadays schools are extremely proactive when it comes to bullying. Some are (I know mine is), but most are unfortunately extremely reactive. You see, the biggest concern for schools is not that they have cases of bullying within their grounds, but that they could potentially be sued for it.
That is why the methodology for many schools concerning this issue is to have a anti-bullying policy in place. This policy usually contains a pretty standard set of procedures a school must undertake when a case of bullying has been presented to them. As long as they follow the steps – no lawsuit.
But just wait a minute, I hear you asking. What is the motivation for a school to uncover bullying that hasn’t been reported to them?
And this is where we get to the crux of the problem.
Parents are not confronting the school and neither are students. School employees are happy to play the “as long as I don’t know about it, it must not exist” game, and thus, bullying continues to be rampant. Even when teachers do notice a possible bullying incident, they often find ways to dismiss it as a natural conflict rather than a case of bullying.
So I am not in the least bit surprised when I read articles like this one?:
If the thought of your child being bullied at school breaks your heart, then consider this – you might not even notice.
Analysis of a study of more than 4000 children has found parents and teachers often do not realise children are being bullied.
For more than half of the children who said they had been bullied, their parents were either not aware or did not consider the actions were bullying, research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies shows.
And the vast majority of teachers – four out of five – did not report the child had been a victim of bullying, suggesting they need more training on how to respond.
One in three 10-year-olds said they had been bullied in Australian schools, the research found.
Being bullied at a young age was a sad precursor of things to come, with one in seven children persistently bullied or picked on throughout their entire school life.
“One of the obstacles to adults understanding is that parents and teachers dismiss teasing or name calling or put downs as normal or harmless,’’ researcher Jodie Lodge said.
“Bullying is not a normal behaviour, it’s not just part of growing up, it is a serious concern.”
When children do talk to their parents about it they need to be listened to, otherwise they start to doubt their own feelings and views, Dr Lodge said.