People subjected to either
verbal or physical bullying are known to be at greater risk of
developing depression, anxiety disorders or to behave violently,
says Fr. Chris Riley, the chief executive officer and founder of
Youth Off the Streets.
“The fear and anxiety can make it difficult for the child to
focus and engage in the classroom, making learning more difficult,”
“It can cause children to experience fear, depression,
loneliness, anxiety, low self esteem, physical illness and in some
cases, even suicidal thoughts.”
A report issued by the Department of Education and Training shows
346 bullying-related incidents were recorded during four school
terms to September last year.
Most victims were teenage students but the report reveals parents,
teachers and intruders were also involved in the most serious
Fr. Chris says parents need to understand fully that they are
their child’s ‘main advocate’ and need to take bullying
He said some of the indications can be loss of interest in school
and extra-curricular activities; frequent complaints of illness to
avoid attending school; unexplained injuries (bruises); the child
does not have a network of friends, can seem sad or moody and even
depressed; loss of appetite; trouble sleeping; anxiety or low self
esteem; and sudden decrease in academic performance.
“If parents suspect that their child is a bully or is being
bullied, they need to take action and the first step is to talk to
the child – in fact, parents will have great outcomes with their
child if they constantly talk to their children daily,” he said.
“If a parent suspects their child of being bullied, they should
ask subtle questions such as: Whom do you play with at recess? Are
there any kids at school that you do not like? Why don’t you
like them? Are they ever mean to you or do they leave you out of
He added: “Parents should never ignore bullying and should never
tell kids to ‘toughen up’ or ‘stand up for yourself’ as
this could have disastrous effects and the message you give the
young person is that it is their fault and we should never blame
the victim. “Parents should get as much information as possible
and work with the school. Parents should not let their emotional
response drive their actions, for example, go over to the other
person’s house and confront them and their family.”
Fr. Chris says supervision at school should be thorough.
Students should never be unsupervised.