New figures have revealed the shocking extent of bullying in Australian schools, where one in five children are targeted – and most parents don’t know how to deal with it.
When 10-year-old Cooper Hamlin was being bullied a couple of years ago, mum Louisa Smith felt guilty because she had no idea it was happening.
“It was ongoing as well; we weren’t actually sure exactly how long it was going on for,” she told 7 News.
On Wednesday the Victorian schoolboy described the physical abuse he had suffered at the hands of bullies.
“They kicked me in the ribcage, then they left me and ran away,” he said.
Latest research has revealed almost 90 per cent of parents aren’t confident they would know if their child was being bullied.
“They told us they felt overwhelmed, guilty, helpless to know what to do, and how to make it stop,” Dr Anthea Rhodes from The Royal Children’s Hospital said.
Many parents said they confronted the child doing the bullying, or their parents, while others decided to keep their child home from school.
However, experts say this can actually make things worse.
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“They’re better to talk with the school, get some help and assistance in having those conversations,” Dr Rhodes said.
Parents are advised to talk with their child regularly.
“Just check in, [say] ‘Let’s talk about the day’ in general, then things seem to emerge a lot more quickly when you’re having those conversations,” Cooper’s mum advised.
The best strategies to deal with cyberbullying are to block or unfriend the offender, collect evidence with screen shots, and report inappropriate behaviour to the social media site or safety commissioner.
Contact the school for support – don’t approach the bully or their parents yourself. Seek help from a counsellor, psychologist or GP.
Cooper also offered his advice to others being bullied, saying: “I’ve learnt once something happens, tell a teacher or parent – whoever is closest to you – straight away.”