In this ‘Stop Bullying’ series, The Carousel has spoken with The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, a national charity protecting children from violence and its devastating effects, and the National Centre Against Bullying, an initiative of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, to give advice on your bullying experiences.
This week, Ineka, 33, asks for advice about handling her son being exploited in a group situation.
WHEN A YOUNG CHILD IS BEING EXPLOITED BY THE ‘GROUP’
Q “My 6 year-old son has just started at a new school and is finding it hard to make friends. He’s being excluded from playing with some of the other boys unless he takes his LEGO pieces to ‘trade’ – they want to swap his good pieces for their less popular pieces. I’ve watched some of the boys huddled around him several times now, only talking to him about which LEGO pieces they want. Is excluding him from play unless he meets their conditions a form of bullying? And how do I manage it? He’s trying so hard to be accepted into the group.” Ineka, 33, mum to Ashley.
A “All children want to be part of a group, but it shouldn’t be at any price and deliberate exclusion from a group certainly falls within the definition of bullying. We’d advise you as a parent talk to the child’s teacher about what’s happening and ask her or him how they are going to deal with this nasty, exploitative behaviour. Have a look at the school’s policies about bullying and how it is managed.
The good thing is that because they are all young, the children can learn valuable lessons about what is acceptable in a friendship and what is not. Ask the teacher about other children your son can be encouraged to play with, and see if he would like to invite some of them home for a play date.
It seems, from what you’ve said, as though you’ve observed the boys in your own home: you don’t have to have them there, and when they behave badly, tell them you don’t like what they are doing and take them home. It could also be a good idea to explain to your son that the boys want his LEGO pieces, not his friendship. He has some learning to do about what he feels comfortable with and if he gives his things away, he won’t get them back. Be strong – don’t replace them. Also encourage involvement with things outside school: a LEGO club, or other groups of children who are supervised, such as Scouts or a local sporting team.”
What is bullying?
According to the National Centre Against Bullying, an initiative of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, bullying is defined as “when an individual or a group of people with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond. Bullying can continue over time, is often hidden from adults, and will probably continue if no action is taken.” This is a frightening reality for any child and parent.
Dealing with bullies…
The NCAB sees bullying as “a relationship problem which requires relationship-based solutions” and advises that “these are best solved in the social environment in which they occur. In a child or young person’s life, this is most often the school.” This means the place to start is in the environment where it occurred.
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation is a national charity protecting children from violence and its devastating effects. For more information on bullying, visit www.amf.org.au
Need more help?
Great Australian resources for parents can be found at:
- The Alannah and Madeline Foundation
- Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
- Youth BeyondBlue
If your child needs to speak to someone about their experience Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25, Kids Helpline can be contacted on 1800 551 800.
Dandelion is an original anti-bullying story by award-winning Digital Agency Protein One that encourages parents and children to discuss the issue of bullying. Dandelion does not offer a solution as bullying comes in many forms, yet Benjamin’s story communicates the importance of keeping your confidence when those around you aim to destroy it. Dandelion is available on the AppStore and published by randomhouse.com.au
For more anti bullying tips click here.
Produced by Protein
Created & Written by Galvin Scott Davis.
Illustrated by Anthony Ishinjerro.
Music by Hylton Mowday
Narration by Linal Haft
Animation by Marvinsane, animation assist Dale Emrose.