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Take Bullying Seriously

Father Chris Warns Parents

By Damir Govorcin

March 8, 2009

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,” he said.

“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 cases.

Fr. Chris says parents need to understand fully that they are their child’s ‘main advocate’ and need to take bullying seriously.

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 things?”

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

Reprinted with permission

Copyright © 2008. Catholic Weekly - Sydney






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