Academic marks Stand Up to Bullying Day by providing tips to help parents support bullied children

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 13 JUNE

A leading bullying expert has drawn up a list of tips to help parents support children who may be being bullied.

To mark Stand Up to Bullying Day (June 13), Birmingham City University researcher Dr Elizabeth Nassem has provided key advice to help young people cope with the challenges they face when being bullied.

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She has also called for policies at the classroom and political level to allow for more training and guidance to help teachers recognise and resolve bullying.

Dr Nassem, a researcher in the University’s Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education (CSPACE) has carried out a decade of research into the causes and development of bullying within schools and how it impacts young people.

Stand Up to Bullying Day is a national day of recognition aimed at encouraging people to stand against bullying in schools, workplaces and communities.

Dr Nassem’s research has seen her work closely with schools across Birmingham, where she has interviewed children and teachers about their experiences, observed groups and worked with schools to look at their policies. 

Her findings have enabled her to draw up tips for parents and guardians concerned their children may be being bullied, including:

  • Speaking out: Encourage your child to find the courage to speak out rather than allow bullies to thrive on their silence.
  •  Have a positive outlet to express your emotions: Provide your child with a diary or opportunity to express their emotions because of the bullying. This is a great way to help them reflect.
  • Think about the best way to respond: Consider what your child can do or say in response to bullies.
  • Be confident: Encourage confidence in your children and make sure they are strong and feel they have a voice if they are being bullied.
  • Create a support network: There may be other children who are being bullied that your child can speak to and they can support each other.

Dr Nassem said:

“Many people will know what it feels like to be bullied. Despite in-depth research and well-meaning interventions, bullying in schools is still an ongoing problem and is now associated with depression, anxiety and even suicide.

“Traditional ways of identifying ‘bullies’ can be used to target those already marginalised, while more sophisticated bullying is usually perceived as accepted and approved of in schools.”

Dr Nassem argues that school policies need to include more scope for guidance and training to help teachers identify bullying, with her research suggesting that teachers sometimes miss opportunities to intervene.

She also argues that schools should develop better relationships between teachers as this can lead an improvement in how situations are handled and reduce the number of occurrences.

Dr Nassem believes anti-bullying policies should also take the views of children directly into consideration when being drawn up. 

Martha Evans, Director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance and whose organisation has supported Dr Nassem’s research, said:

“Bullying is often thought of as having a good person and a bad person, or the “bully”, but it is actually much more nuanced than that. Both children and those who experience bullying are more likely to be excluded from school.

“Elizabeth’s work shines a light on these nuances involved in bullying. Bullying is an abuse of power whether face-to-face or online, and we want to support the whole community children, teachers, parents and carers to work together to stop bullying wherever and whenever it happens and create safe environments where children can thrive.”

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