Bullying affects children all across the UAE, and is heart-breaking for both the child affected and their parents.
A new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association highlights the importance of identifying and dealing with bullying quickly as any kind of delay could affect the child in later life.
Plus, the nature of bullying is changing thanks to social media and is more widespread than ever before.
But how can you spot if your little one is coming under attack from their school mates or online?
Dr Tatiana Falcone from Cleveland Clinic Children's points out that there are several red flags to watch out for.
"A common sign is a change in behaviour patterns, for example, a child who used to like participating in school and school activities, suddenly doesn’t want to go anymore," says Dr Falcone.
"Their grades might start going down, and they might disengage from family activities too."
Falcone adds that some bullied children become irritable and cranky.
“They may even become aggressive at some point, and we find that some children who endure chronic bullying end up becoming bullies themselves,” she says.
If you're worried your child is being bullied, here are some steps you can take to deal with the issue...
- The younger the child and the longer the bullying continues, the more harmful it is, so try to address it immediately.
- Report the bullying to the school, and ask to be kept in the loop about what measures have been taken and what the consequences are.
- Remove the child from the environment as soon as possible, for example changing them to a different class.
- Speak to your child and explain what bullying is so that they will be able to recognise it if it happens to them or anybody else.
- Ensure your children understand that they can speak openly to you about anything that happens or that they are worried about.
- Make a habit of checking their social media, web history including gaming sites, and school notebooks every week. Stress how important it is that they only accept requests or followers they know well. If you find anything worrying, take a screenshot or the written evidence with you to the school when you report the issue.
- If your child is being bullied on social media, put them on a ‘social media diet’, blocking any bullies, and cutting back on social media or accessing it only under supervision.
- Identify a ‘safe person’ at the school; this is a trusted adult, such as the school counsellor, who your child can approach if they are worried about anything.