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How do I start the conversation to end bullying?

How do I start the conversation to end bullying?

One in four young people will experience bullying at some time during their schooling. Because of this and the impact bullying can have, Dolly’s Dream continue to raise awareness about bullying and contribute to resources to end it.

In the words of our passionate co-founder, Tick Everett, the job isn’t done yet.

Psychologist and Dolly’s Dream advisory board member, Dr Charlotte Keating, offers advice on how to start a conversation with your child which can help end bullying.

You might be reading this because your child has experienced bullying, or their friend may have experienced it. It might also be because your child has bullied someone else.

As parents, carers, educators or concerned adults, each one of us can choose to have the critical conversations that will help end the cycle of bullying.

We know that 50 per cent of young people who experience bullying don’t talk to their parents about it. The reasons can vary. They may feel like it might be their fault that the bullying is occurring. Perhaps they don’t want to worry their parents, or they may hold the belief that they will somehow disappoint their parents. The reasons can be complex.

Creating the space to have these conversations in a calm, safe way, models that regardless of what has happened, it will be safe to talk about it. These conversations will also help to build resilience in young people to potentially cope with bullying, and to break the cycle.

No one deserves to be bullied. Having conversations that reinforce this message, helps young people know that if they are being bullied, it isn’t their fault. It also lets them know how you feel about bullying, and how you would respond if they came to you for support.

These are not once-off conversations. As young people grow, social experiences become more complex, and bullying can become more sophisticated.

The more we are prepared to have open, curious conversations with young people about bullying: what their beliefs about bullying are and its impacts, what they would do if faced with a bullying situation, how they would want to deal with it – the greater the chance we will have to help them build resilience and skills to cope with it, including seeking your support.

The specific language used, and delivery is as important in these conversations as the timing of when to have them. For example, if you have a conversation about bullying at the beginning of the school year (or indeed anytime) it’s more likely to help a young person cope in the face of a bullying experience, than if they were to experience bullying, without yet having had the opportunity to talk through managing such situations. They’ll also be better prepared to support a peer who may be experiencing it, too.