You don’t truly understand the devastation of bullying until you’ve experienced it yourself. If you’ve been bullied, or you’ve desperately tried to protect your child from being bullied, you’ll know what I mean.
What makes it worse is the lack of real support out there for parents that are desperately struggling to protect their kids.
I mean support that actually helps, not just a ‘there, there. I really feel for you. Isn’t it awful?! But, you know, most people are bullied at some point during their school life.’
How is that helpful? In fact, it’s exactly that sort of attitude that helps bullying continue.
As parents we need to know what to expect the school to do when our child is being bullied and what to do if the school doesn’t do what they should. We need to know what we can do so we’re not left feeling helpless and continually anxious.
We need to know what action to take to have the quickest, most powerful impact.
We don’t want to be told that it’s just a falling out when we’re the ones comforting our kids through tears and panic every evening before bed. There’s a difference between kids arguing and a child being bullied. Arguments are two-way. Bullying is all about one person trying to control and intimidate another.
Stop brushing it under the carpet, our kids need help!
Back in 2009 I was one of those parents. My daughter was being bullied and I quickly learnt how few resources there are to help you stop your child being bulled.
There are schools that would prefer to pretend it’s not happening, parents of the bullies that refuse to accept that their child is anything but an angel, and a general attitude that there’s not much that can be done to stop it. Fellow parents that give you a ‘poor you’ look that leaves you feeling as though you’re in some way to blame for this happening. That’s without the bullies our kids call friends, that continually reduce our kids to tears, constantly make them feel crap, yet our kids still insist on being their friend.
Yep I mean the dreaded ‘Frenemies’.
They are possibly one of the worst kind (and most common type) of bully because they know your child so well. They they know everything about your child so they can use it against them. And worst of all, your child trusts them and continually tries to please them!
So, after struggling alone for what seemed like a lifetime, we finally managed to piece together snippets of help from various places that helped us successfully stop the bullying. Websites, blogs, talks with teacher friends, more Google searches than I could count… and we didn’t leave it there, we kept going, developing my daughters confidence and self-esteem so she could fully recover and wasn’t left a mere shadow of her former self, afraid to take advantage of opportunities or make the most of life.
Back while it was happening I remember feeling the need to some day put all this information in one place so other parents didn’t have to waste their time being passed from pillar to post feeling as though they are over-reacting and paranoid (because that’s exactly how you’re made to feel when you’ve approached the school for the third time in as many days!) Your anxiety goes into overdrive, you can’t think clearly, you’re completely overwhelmed and left feeling under qualified and totally unsupported.
Understandably, we assume if anything ever goes wrong we can expect the school to step in and make it stop. Some do, but I hear from so many more parents that feel it’s been swept under the carpet and that their child has been left to deal with it alone.
What makes it worse is that by the time you’ve found out what the school should be doing you’re already in emotional tatters and your child is now terrified to go to school at all.
After the bullying had stopped I went on to work on a national bullying helpline for 4 years, which I loved. However, it still didn’t feel enough. The parents I was talking to wanted more than one phone call. They needed ongoing support; before, during and long after.
There were parents that were bullied themselves and were terrified the same would happen to their child. There were parents who had just found out that their child was being bullied and were caught in the whirlwind of emotion without help or support.
Then there were the parents that had dealt with their child being bullied before but it was happening again, in fact it has happened a few times now. They were really sick of the cycle and needed a whole lot more than one phone call to help them really solve this.
Finally, there were the parents who had dealt with the bullying but were left with a child that never returned to their happy, confident self. Sometimes their struggle was with anxiety, in some cases even depression. The parents needed help to help their child fully recover from being bullied and thrive.
So I took my personal experience and what I’d learnt from the helpline and The Anti-Bullying Mum was created. A one-stop shop packed full of resources for any parent struggling to support their child in overcoming bullying.
The impact of being bullied is far larger than the initial damage. So many adults are currently walking around contending with depression, anxiety, insecurities, failed relationships and friendships, as a result of the damage caused by being bullied as a child.
Bullying is not a fact of life
No child should be left to deal with being bullied alone. My aim is to reduce the suicide rates in the UK as a result of bullying. I work to provide everything parents need to help their child overcome bullying and thrive. Through blogs, video’s, masterclasses and online courses I work with parents to ensure their actions are effective, they know what needs to be done, what help the school should provide, and most importantly, they know they are not alone in dealing with this.