How parents can help

Mary is an attractive, intelligent child aged eight years. She moved schools because she was being bullied. Her previous school, despite its high status and religious affiliations, ignored the bullying. She is shy, and seldom complained to her teacher, although her parents went to theschoolten times in threeyears. Mary felt as though her 'insides were on fire'. Her parents moved her to a new, caring school. They soon discovered that she was so hurt by the previous bullying that she couldn't enjoy the friendly kids and safe environment at her new school, so they took herfor counselling. They realised that they needed to change as well: they had to become more socially aware to help her reduce her shyness. They had to develop assertive skills and encourage her to use more eye contact, facial expression, a stronger voice - which they did. She is now enjoying her new school.

Children need exposure to some germs to build their physical resilience. Similarly, training them to deal with school bullies equips them for managing pushy friends, aggressive bosses, controlling partners and others. Bully blocking is a basic life survival skill. Conversely, once a child stops bullying others, he is more likely to attract respect, success and true friendships. And once children have the social confidence and skills to protect themselves, they can take risks, increase their social adventures and widen their social circle.

Although the school plays a significant role in reducing bullying, it must not be held totally accountable. Parents are ultimately responsible for teaching their children social survival skills.

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