The bullying articles are by Wendy Nichols and Robyn Collins


Part 3: Cyberbulling

The Internet, mobile phones and other communication technologies have resulted in this new form of bullying that involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour by an individual or group to hurt others. Cyberbullying may include the sending of nasty emails or text messages by one person to another. It may also include defamatory personal Web sites where one person establishes a website which includes unkind comments and photographs about another person.

As for other forms of bullying, there is no one approach that will always work for cyberbullying. You need to use a range of Internet safety approaches to provide the best overall protection against cyberbullying. Families need to work together to decide which approaches will work for them.

For younger children, in particular, parents should find out about filters, labels and safe zones so that you can restrict the sites your child can access or the materials they can receive. See the www.netalert.net.au website for useful information about internet safety.

If possible, and especially for primary and senior secondary students, keep the computer in a public area of the house, such as the family room, so that you can see what sites are being accessed and the type of messages your child is receiving.

It is important that parents and children talk about ways they can protect themselves when using information technologies. If your child is regularly using technology tell him/her:

·         to be careful who they give their telephone number to or their online handle;

·         never give out or share personal information numbers (PINS);

·         don’t believe everything you read online – just because someone tells you they are fifteen, it doesn’t mean they are telling the truth;

·         never send a message to others when you are angry.  Remind them that what they write becomes available in cyberspace and cannot be taken back;

·         never open a message from someone they don’t know;

·         be polite in your online or text message dealings; and

·         never arrange to meet someone you have met online unless you take your parents with you.

Ask your school to:

  • include cyberbullying in its anti-bullying policy;

  • educate students and teachers about the problem;

  • provide a contact person at the school who you can contact if your child is being bullied.

Improving Confidence and Self-esteem

No matter how much we try we cannot always keep our children safe or ensure that they will be happy. We can, however, increase their chances of coping with difficulties by building their confidence and self-esteem. People with high self-esteem can usually shrug off bullying. They know what the bully is trying to do and either walk away, ignore them or can quieten the bully with a few well-chosen words. (The last tactic does require high self esteem and some quick thinking.)

If the bully isn’t getting the reaction they want from the victim, they will usually persist for a little while and then give up.

So how do you build self-esteem?

When we are being picked on, it is easy to feel worthless and forget all the wonderful things about ourselves.

Often, victims are really nice people, people who will grow into caring, gentle adults, be successful in their jobs and make great parents. Remember this - it helps!

·     Tell your child that life might be tough at the moment, but, if you take some steps to improve your self-esteem and confidence, it will get better;

·         Teach your children to give to themselves and to listen to positive feedback;

·         Teach your children to give to others by showing care and concern – it is amazing how thinking about the needs of others makes us aware of how lucky we are, and helps us to make friends;

·         Develop their communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal. Show them how they use their eyes, face and body can show interest, neutrality, confidence and fear – we know that children who project confidence in their voices and body language are less likely to be bullied;

·         Teach them the words for communicating – ‘I think’, ‘I feel’, ‘I would like’;

·         Help them develop a support network, including a bunch of 3-5 friends and teachers/older students/ other adults who your child can count on – if a child has a group of friends outside of the school, any lack of support at school is less likely to impact on them long term;

·         Encourage them to participate in drama, sport, team activities, music, church groups, and other activities – research suggests that these activities help children gain confidence and reduce their chances of being bullied;

·         Investigate leadership building activities such as Scouts and Guides, Future Problem Solving, Tournament Of Minds, Outward Bound and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards;

·         Research activities you and your child can do together;

·         Try to give your child something to look forward to, to relieve the pressure of school.

Robyn Collins and Wendy Nichols

You can read more about bullying in Robyn and Wendy’s ebook at www.freefrombullies.com

Assertiveness training/communication skills

Assertiveness is the ability to express your feelings, opinions, beliefs and needs directly, openly and honestly, without intentionally hurting anyone’s feelings. Assertiveness does not mean being aggressive or stopping others expressing their own feelings, opinions and beliefs in a similar manner. One way of thinking about assertiveness is that it is between being passive and being aggressive. Being aggressive is ‘bullying’. It is destructive to relationships and often makes the aggressor feel bad. Being passive may help avoid conflict but in time the person feels helpless and not in control.

Assertive children are more likely to stand up for their right and less likely to be bullied.

When children are assertive they:

·         Let people know their needs and wants

·         Do not hurt the other person’s feelings

·         Feel respected and heard (and make sure the other person is also)

·         Strengthen the relationship between the two parties

·         Feel in control

·         Experience fewer conflicts and arguments

·         Feel more confidence and have higher self-esteem

·         Have a better chance of getting what they want.

Like any other skill, assertiveness is something that must be learned – and it may take time. Begin by modelling assertiveness in your own interactions with your child, as well as explicitly teaching your child how to be assertive. Explain the difference between assertiveness, aggressiveness and passivity. Role-play typical bullying situations where they can practise being assertive. Notice when they handle a situation assertively and compliment them.

Here are some of things to practise with your child:

Body Language

Teach your child to act assertively by:

·         looking the other person in the eye

·         standing up straight

·         consciously relaxing their shoulders when talking to someone

·         trying to breathe normally and not holding their breath

·         keeping their face relaxed

·         speaking at a normal conversational volume (don’t yell or whisper).

Using assertive language

The most important thing about assertiveness is that you want to let the other person know what you want without making them aggressive or defensive. When you accuse people or say things like ‘you’re a bully’ or ‘you’re stupid’ you make them defensive and likely to hit back. This not what you want! The secret of assertive language is that you criticise the person’s behaviour, not the person – and you do this by explaining how that behaviour makes you feel or what it is you want.

To do this, you use an ‘I’ statement. This is a statement that says how it feels on your side. When someone says something hurtful, teach your child to do the following:

·         Take a deep breath

·         Stay calm and with feet firmly planted on the ground

·         Get into “I statement’ gear

·         Say: when I hear you saying bad things about me…

·         I feel sad and humiliated

·         What I would like is to talk about stopping this without you ending up feeling hurt.

 Robyn Collins and Wendy Nichols

You can read more about bullying in Robyn and Wendy’s ebook at www.freefrombullies.com Copyright 2006




Part 1: You're not alone
Part 2:Improving confidence
Assertiveness training