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Dealing With Bullying

EXCLUSIVE - The Freda Briggs Parenting Series

Freda Briggs - Emeritus Professor in Child Development
for | 10 February 2012

Stock Photo

Bullying is a very common problem;

one in four children are bullied frequently. Victims are often those who are not socially well integrated and it follows that children stand a better chance of avoiding it if you can help them to develop the social skills needed to form lasting friendships. Friends will intervene and assist with the emotional fallout.

Bullying involves one or more children controlling others by generating distress and fear. It can be physical, verbal or cyber bullying but psychological harm is always involved. Victims are usually those perceived as different in their appearance, dress, speech, ethnicity, religion or even the food they bring in their lunchbox. Australian children told the author that they were bullied because their mothers were seen as different by virtue of age (older than usual), their accent, being overweight or wearing different clothing. Most children are afraid to complain because they fear that the bullying will increase if parents lodge complaints. That is not true but the sense of helplessness leads to victims losing confidence, feeling isolated, depressed and avoiding school.

Bullies are usually unhappy kids who risk rejection because peer admiration is short-lived, based on the fear of being the next victims. They fail in school and their anti-social behaviour may continue into adulthood, leading to violent crimes.

Don't expect children to handle bullies without your help. Never say, "Hit him back" and don't say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but harsh words do not hurt me" .. because they do!

Boys are more likely than girls to engage in physical bullying using stand-over tactics, stealing or hiding the victim's essential possessions to cause distress. Physical bullying includes tripping, hitting or bullying others into doing this for them. Boys are referred to as poofter, homo, fatso and girls are similarly insulted: "Don't play with him, he's got AIDS", they say. Children may not understand the meaning but they know its offensive. Girls are more likely to engage in emotional abuse and rejection: e.g. " wont invite you to my party"; don't want you as my friend any more".

Be open to the possibility that your child will be bullied and may also bully others. Discuss bullying and why it has to be stopped quickly. Be alert to changes in mood, school refusal, nightmares, withdrawal, frequent crying. Internet sites offer hundreds of tips for dealing with this common problem. Check that the school or centre has and uses an anti-bullying program.

For more information see "Smart Parenting for Safer Kids" by Freda Briggs, available from JoJo Publishers, Melbourne, bookshops or the internet.

Freda Briggs
Emeritus Professor in Child Development

Smart Parenting for Safer Kids

Dr Freda Briggs AO is Emeritus Professor in Child Development at the University of South Australia and author of "Smart Parenting for Safer Kids". "Smart Parenting for Safer Kids", reviewed by here, gives tips on keeping children safe in a wide range of situations from cyber space and sexual abuse to bullying. The book is available in all good bookstores and can be ordered by phone on 03 9681 7275 or online at JoJo Publishing
You can read more of Freda Briggs's Profile here.

This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of The views of the author are not necessarily representative of those of This article contains only general information, correct at the date of publication. For advice regarding your own personal circumstances, always seek individual advice from a qualified professional. Read the full Disclaimer here

What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the


are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.


plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a


or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

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