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BULLYING!


"Before Dolly died, she completed a drawing and wrote the words 'Stand up, speak even if your voice shakes'… Unfortunately Dolly will never know the great pain and emptiness left behind," – Tick & Kate Everett.

After reading the heartbreaking statement from the parents of beautiful Dolly it only felt right to open the first blog for 2018 with the topic of bullying. As we prepare for a new school year it’s important to highlight how difficult this topic is for not only children but also their parents and teachers.


Bullying – is considered one of the most common forms of violence in schools. Despite most schools adopting programs to reduce bullying and create emotionally and physically safe places for learning, bullying still continues to be a real issue. Primary school students are more educated than ever on what bullying is, however statistics still show that approximately one in four Year 4 to Year 9 Australian students (27%) report being bullied every few weeks or more often, and 84% of students who are bullied online are also bullied in person.


"Occupational Performance" - Children and teens who experience bullying may be challenged in the following areas of occupational performance:

1. Social participation:

· Rejection from peers

· Isolation due to fear of being bullied or feelings of inadequacy

· Family stress and tension can result from the youth’s depression and anxiety related to bullying

2. Activities of Daily Living:

· Changes in eating patterns or loss of appetite

· Disruptions in sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep

3. Education:

· Difficulty concentrating and completing assignments due to anxiety or depression

· Avoiding school to prevent being bullied

· Experiencing illness associated with the stress of being bullied (e.g. stomach aches, headaches), resulting in frequent absenteeism

4. Work:

· Difficulty completing work tasks due to poor concentration and anxiety

· Isolation and low morale leads to absenteeism

5. Play/leisure:

· Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities


Every child should be supported to succeed in all areas of occupational performance. Below are some tips to consider if your child is involved in bullying:


Your child is being bullied:

• Be supportive by listening to your child and provide them with time to express themselves.

• It’s a new year, which generally means a new teacher. Use this opportunity to build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher. Check in with him or her and be mindful that your child may not have told their teacher about any bullying incidences.

• Educate on positive problem solving behaviours to keep them safe.

• Practice self-soothing/relaxation strategies with your child to cope with any stress they may be experiencing.

• Encourage your child to widen their friendship network.


Your child is involved in bullying:

• Explore any possible triggers to the behaviour. Is the behaviour out of character? Has your child recently experienced any stress? Has there been any changes to their home or school environments?

• Consider whether your child has developed age-appropriate social skills.

• Support your child’s development of empathy skills. A way of developing this might be through analysing characters behaviours and feelings in books and movies.

Your child has witnessed bullying:

• Show your child that they have your support by listening to their story.

• Reflect on the incident and discuss how it made them feel.

• Encourage positive helping behaviours.

• Encourage your child to report any incidences to the teachers at school.


Bullying is a complex issue and unfortunately there is no quick fix. Working together with the school, and understanding your child’s needs will help lead to a resolution. If you are finding your child is going through a challenging time in regards to bullying, you can contact a psychologist, social worker or occupational therapist who can give you and your child strategies to work through these challenging times.


References:

• Atwood, T. (n.d.). Understanding and teaching friend- ship skills. Retrieved from http://www.tonyattwood. com.au/index.php/publications/by-tony-attwood/ archived-papers/75-understanding-and-teaching- friendship-skills

• Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. (n.d.) Bibliotherapy booklists: Helping young children cope in today’s world. Retrieved August 21, 2013 from http://www. carnegielibrary.org/research/parentseducators/par- ents/bibliotherapy/

• Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., Monks, H., Lester, L., & Thomas, L. (2009).

Australian covert bullying prevalence study.

• Department of Education and Training (2015). A review of literature (2010-2014) on student bullying by Australia’s Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group .

• Espelage, D. L., & Swearer, S. M. (2003). Research on school bullying and victimization: What have we learned and where do you we go from here? School Psychology Review, 32, 365–383.

• Spears, B., Keeley, M., Bates, S., & Katz, I. (2014a). Research on youth exposure to, and management of, cyberbullying incidents in Australia: Part A ‒ Literature review on the estimated prevalence of cyberbullying involving Australian minors.

• Storey, K., Slaby, R., Adler, M., Minotti, J., & Katz,R. (2013). Eyes on bullying...what can you do? Waltham, MA: Education Development Center, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.eyesonbullying.org/pdfs/ toolkit.pdf

• Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia 2010, Avoid the Harm - Stay Calm Report on the inquiry into the impact of violence on young Australians.


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