Queensland parents can help spot the warning signs of bullying
Health authorities are calling on Queensland parents and carers to help spot and respond to bullying this school year by learning to recognise some of the common early warning signs.
Queensland Health Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch Executive Director, Associate Professor John Allan said the Queensland Government was leading the way in tackling bullying and cyberbullying as part of its commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all young Queenslanders.
Associate Professor Allan encouraged parents to make use of the extensive range of government health and education resources available to help families recognise and respond to the problem of bullying.
“It is critical that parents and the broader community understand that bullying is not normal behaviour. It is not something children should have to tolerate or expect as part of growing up,” he said.
“Bullying is not only a social issue but a health issue too, as it can have serious and long-term emotional or psychological consequences for those exposed to these behaviours.
“Bullying can have a lasting impact on everyone involved, sometimes long after the act of bullying itself has occurred. It causes distress and can lead to feelings of loneliness, fear and sadness. Being bullied can increase a person’s chances of developing anxiety or depression into the future.”
Associate Professor Allan said parents played a key role in helping young people build support systems, for themselves and for siblings and peers, which was critical as young people experiencing bullying would often first reveal it to a friend.
“But many times children and young people won't ask for help, which is why it is so important for parents to know what to look for,” Associate Professor Allan said.
“Bullying impacts people in many different ways, however some of the common signs to look out for in your child include unexpected changes in friendship groups, changed sleep patterns, or changes in their personality where they become more withdrawn, anxious, sad or angry.
“You might notice your child is not wanting to go to school or participate in school activities, is missing belongings, has more mood swings and seems to be crying more, becomes upset after using the internet or mobile phone, or seems to have a drop in academic performance.
“Although these alone may not necessarily point to bullying, you should talk to your child if you have any concerns. Listen calmly to what your child wants to say and ask open and empathetic questions to find out more details.
“Ask your child what they want to do and what they want you to do and discuss some sensible strategies to handle the bullying.”
Associate Professor Allan said for many young people, one of the worst parts of bullying was feeling like they were going through it alone.
“If your child’s feelings of stress, anxiety or sadness get too intense, a counsellor, youth worker or doctor can help,” Associate Professor Allan said.
The Queensland Government is committed to making our state the safest place for children to live, learn and play and continues to lead the nation in addressing bullying and cyberbullying, including accepting all 29 recommendations from the Anti-Cyberbullying Taskforce and allocating $3.5 million for programs to protect children from cyberbullies.
Associate Professor Allan said to learn more about the warning signs of bullying, cyberbullying and how to respond, children, young people and parents were encouraged to visit the Bullying. No Way! website on https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/ or the Office of the eSafety Commission at https://www.esafety.gov.au/.
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