- Posted by Marie Kelly
- On June 28, 2017
For years after I left school I always remember one girl’s name brought an uneasy feeling to me; I remembered her as a bully. I recall watching her from a distance bully girls who did nothing to her, they were simply not cool…and one could say easy targets. I have always regretted not doing anything. When I finally did meet her socially many years after that – I felt like I had gone back in time, I actually sucked in my breath, but even though I did not want to talk to her, I would have to say she was quite an engaging person but I did tell her many others only remembered her as a bully. She was quite taken aback that people thought of her like that.
Research shows students who are bullied are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety and to avoid going to school. Bullying that is particularly sustained, severe or intense may be linked to serious physical and mental health outcomes, including increased risk of suicide.Many people have been a victim of bullying or many of us has helped someone that has, and they’ve become a stronger person because of it. Read about bullying in New Zealand including information provided by Dr Emma Woodward (Kidz Therapy) below.
Potentially damaging bullying is hurting New Zealand children even in preschool, and psychologists say it’s time to take the issue seriously.
The University of Auckland’s longitudinal study Growing up in New Zealand has this month released its Now We Are Four report which shows a concerning number of 4-year-olds have dealt with bullying on a regular basis.
The report’s researchers found bullying behaviour started early and was a frequent and persistent experience for some.
For around one in ten children, being bullied or picked on had been a part of life since they were two years old.
Just over a third of children had been bullied or picked on by other children at some stage by the time they were 4.
The report’s director Susan Morton said the numbers were both concerning and surprising. “We are interested to see what impact it will have as children transition to school and on their academic success and their mental health.”
Questions about bullying were put to parents of about 7000 children, who answered based on their perceptions of their children and how often they were upset by their peers.
Child psychologists who had seen the report said bullying was something that was increasing in New Zealand pre-schools and schools.
Christchurch-based psychologist Cherin Selim said the numbers highlighted that bullying was a serious public health concern that needed to be addressed.
“Bullying can impact on many facets of a child’s developmental and well-being, particularly if it is persistent. It can have a detrimental impact on social and emotional adjustment as well as academic performance and more recently has been implicated in cases of youth suicide,” Selim said.
She said younger children weren’t able to develop effective coping mechanisms to counteract the impacts of bullying.
“Bullying is definitely on the rise among the children that I see and seems far more common than it was several years ago.
“I often see children who are or have a history of being bullied and as a result experience significant levels of anxiety, poor self-esteem, social difficulties, mood disorders and behavioural issues. In some cases, the impact is so severe that children refuse to go to school, display suicidal ideation and become increasingly more isolated,” Selim said.
She said parents could act as a warm and loving buffer and also make sure their children had time with their own peers in a positive environment. “Parents should address bullying early on and avoid viewing it as ‘just one of those things’ or ‘typical of childhood’.”
Child and educational psychologist Emma Woodward of Kidz Therapy said up to half of her own clients had dealt with bullying. “Bullying seems to be on the rise. Bullying is becoming more insidious in schools, bullying that is written off as kids being kids.”
This had a toxic and detrimental impact on self-esteem and mental health and was often not addressed in the way it needed to be, she said.
Woodward said children in preschool years were still extremely egocentric and this needed to be supported in the right way to stop bullying becoming the norm later in childhood. “Children model their behaviours on what they see around them so unless dealt with effectively through having a supportive and inclusive ethos in the early years setting the behaviour becomes self-perpetuating.”
She said parents could help by actively teaching skills like compassion and empathy, and this was best done through actions rather than words.
Addressing bullying effectively has benefits for the future of both targets and initiators of bullying.
If you need help for your child around bullying or any social-emotional issue, call us on 09 849 4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org