What to do about bullying

To be honest I have been pretty overwhelmed with issues relating to bullying this week.  We have had numerous youth visit Youth Excel because they are experiencing serious, significant, life-changing bullying.  It sickens me to think young people can be so mean and hurtful to each other.

One 8 year old arrived at Youth Excel with a black eye and damaged back from having a group of older boys stomp on him and smash his head into the cement.  It was all done at school, in the playground while the teacher wasn’t looking.  You can imagine how furious I felt.  One of our psychologists, the school, and the police are now involved. Things are moving in the right direction but there is still a long way to go.

Although it has been a tough week, I have also gained a new sense of hope.  My very last appointment today was with a family whose daughter has been seeing me for about 8 months.  She was experiencing significant bullying when she first came to me.  It wasn’t physical but her ‘friends’ were deliberately excluding, belittling and ignoring her on a daily basis.  Together we worked through many of the strategies you can find in Back off Bully and referred to Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories about bullying.  However, it became more than she could handle.

As a family (I’ll include myself in this category) we actually decided to transition her to another school.  She didn’t have the strength to keep going and we were quickly losing momentum.  It was a big decision but it has paid off.  I have seen her absolutely blossom at her new school.  She is a completely different girl.

Her bravery, courage and honesty have had an impact on me.  I have gained hope that young people have the strength to turn horrible situations around.  They can get through serious setbacks, including bullying.  They can even go from feeling lost to feeling strong.

If you have been wondering if it is time to move your teenager to a different school here are some questions I’d like you to ask yourself.

– Is their current situation teaching them or damaging them?  Sometimes life teaches children and other times it damages them.  On the whole I am in favour of letting kids “work it out” and in doing so enable them to develop resilience.  In some cases though, this proves to be unproductive, and leaves them in a world of pain they are unable to get out of.  If they are seriously drowning you might need to rescue them.

– Has the bullying been ongoing?  The longer things go on the worse the damage can be.  If things have been going on for years without any progress, you do need to intervene in some way.  Sometimes this means changing their school and other times it means providing other intervention.  Things usually don’t get better by themselves.

– Is the school culture a good fit for your family?  Does the school and families attending the school share similar values as you?  Choosing a school which is a good fit for your family’s values and expectations can be half the battle.  Take this into careful consideration when considering a move.

– What do they want to do?  If they don’t feel they have the strength to continue please listen to them. They often know where their limits lie.

For a full list of Australian schools visit The Australian Schools Directory

 

THANK YOU to everyone who has been passing these blog posts on, and for all your kind emails about their impact on your family.  If you have a topic you would like me to blog about email me at info@michellemitchell.org and I will respond to it as soon as I can.

If you would like to book me to speak at your school or community event email michelle@youthexcel.com.au

MOST IMPORTANTLY if your teenager needs support from a psychologist, counsellor or mentor Youth Excel would love to help. You can contact me at reception@youthexcel.com.au.

– See more at: http://michellemitchell.org/overwhelmed-and-encouraged-all-in-one-week/#sthash.ekhDUQmm.dpuf

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