I got kicked, pinched, punched, bitten...
When I was bullied at primary school, it was not a very obvious type of bullying and it
was just where I was being excluded. One of the incidents I remember was where I'd gone
up to a group of people who I thought were my friends and I joined in a conversation
and one of the girls turned to me and said, "Why you here?" And I said, "Well, what do
you mean, why am I here?" And she said, "Don't stand here. You're not welcome."
If you're a parent and you find out your small child's being bullied, you're just devastated.
You know, we all want our children to be popular and have friends and the fact that they might
be picked on, somebody else might not like them is devatasting to parents.
I felt sick. I felt guilty. I felt like I'd lost control looking after my child.
If your child was being bullied, how would you know?
If parents suspect their young children are being bullied, the most obvious thing to look
out for is mood changes. Often kids that are being bullied get withdrawn, they get upset.
They might be saying that they are being sick and they don't want to go to school. They
change their moods. You'll notice as a parent if something's up with them.
One of the first signs might be that your child is not behaving in ways which are average
and normal for them, so if your child is outgoing and suddenly becomes quite introverted, perhaps
their eating habits are different. It's really about knowing your child and why would he
or she suddenly act very differently.
Other things you can look out for are: torn clothing
from when they come home from school, or if they're missing something like, for
example, if their pencil case goes missing or a bag goes missing, something gets scuffed
or damaged in some way. Often those are indicators that something is going on for them at school.
Is the child attempting to cover up? You know, is an eight year old suddenly locking the
bathroom door? They don't want you to see their arms or legs? Are they hiding bruises?
They will work hugely hard to hide the fact that it's happening.
Small children blame themselves a lot for things that happen to them, so they quite
often think it's their fault. You know, the bully's picked on them because of something
wrong with them and actually that's not true.
There was one evening, I caught Connor at
the top of the stairs with tears in his eyes and I just sat with him and I just said to
him, "What's going on at school?" And he told me that the boy had been threatening him,
calling him names, telling him what he was going to do to him when he got outside school.
And I was just so glad that he'd told me. I put my arms round him
and told him that I would help him.
One of the main things is for a parent to listen to their child
and not to be immediately talking at them, or almost leaking one's pain
and it becomes more about you and not the child. Believing them, absolutely believing
them, because many victims of abuse generally fear not being believed and also letting them
know that now there will be solutions, that the family, and the school and other adults,
that perhaps need to be involved, will work together to solve the problem.