Bullying & Young Children: Understanding the Issues and Tackling the Problem

By Christine Macintyre | Go to book overview

Introduction

‘Why are you sad?’ they asked me.
‘Why are you sad all day?’
‘I’m sad because these other
children never let me play!’

‘You said to ask them nicely,
I did but they ran away
and said if I told they’d hit me.
They really spoil my day.’

If parents were allowed only one wish for their children at school, I am sure it would be that their young people would be happy there. But of course this is a complex ideal. What do they mean? Probably that their children should be healthy and develop the confidence to make friends, and the abilities and skills to allow them to participate in all aspects of the curriculum with enjoyment and some success. This seems an entirely reasonable hope, yet sinister events like bullying can spoil children’s schooldays, even their life chances. The negative effects of bullying can be devastating and for some children endure for many years after leaving school and those who persecuted them there. They can even result in adults having difficulty trusting friends, which can lead to isolation and strained relationships (Alexander et al. 2004a, b). Many if not all schools have anti-bullying policies now, yet despite these, 27 per cent of our primary-age children report that they have been ‘the victim of systematic sustained hostility from a group of peers who consistently made their lives hell’ (Thornton 2007). There is no doubt that the problem still persists.

Imagine what it is like to have your child distressed day after day, frightened to go to school, coming home in tears but seemingly unwilling or unable to explain why. What can you do? ‘Hoping it will go away’ is not a useful strategy, yet many parents, perhaps afraid their child has

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