Bullying, unfortunately, isn’t uncommon. It can be a very upsetting for any child, let alone a child who may already be feeling vulnerable.
By knowing the signs of bullying and feeling confident in dealing with them, you will be able to help resolve the issues more quickly and efficiently.
Signs that your foster child is being bullied
To ensure that you can help your foster child, should they become a victim of bullying, it is important to recognise the signs. These may include:
- Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises and scrapes.
- Unexplained loss of possessions, clothing, lunches, or money.
- Doesn’t want to go to school or take part in other activities. Especially if they enjoyed them before.
- Afraid of going on the school bus.
- Suddenly sullen, withdrawn or evasive. Make note of remarks about feeling lonely.
- Marked change in typical behaviour or personality.
- Physical complaints; headaches, stomach aches, frequent visits the school nurse’s office.
- Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, cries themselves to sleep, bed wetting.
- Change in eating habits.
- Waits to get home to use the bathroom. School and park toilets, because they are often not adult-supervised, can be hot spots for bullying.
- Suddenly has fewer friends or doesn’t want to be with the “regular group.”
- Sudden and significant drop in school work.
- Talks about feeling helpless or about suicide. They may even run away.
How to deal with bullying
If you are concerned that your foster child is being bullied, there are a number of things you can do. These will not only comfort the child but also put you in control of the situation.
- If the child or young person is being bullied, don’t panic – it is important to stay calm and reassure them.
- Listen to them and reassure them that coming to you was the right thing to do.
- Try to find out the facts. It’s a good idea to keep a diary to record of all events relating to bullying.
- Assure them that the bullying is not their fault. Sit down and develop strategies together to deal with situations when they arise.
- Always seek advice and support from your placement manager and the child’s social worker. They will be able to support you and the child in this difficult situation. It will be helpful to share any records you made with them.
- Find out what the child/young person wants to happen next. It is important that they feel that they have some control in this situation. Discuss this information with your placement manager and the social worker for the child.
- If it is occurring in school, discuss the situation with the Headteacher or pastoral support to find a way forward.
- If it is occurring in the community, try to find strategies with the child to avoid coming into that situation. Remember, if the bullying is serious, it may need reporting to the police.
Your foster child may not be ready to talk to you right away. Point them to this anti bullying article we have written on our kids page in the first instance. It has plenty of information and advice on dealing with bullies. The child or young person can read through this on their own until they are ready to talk.
If you would like to feel even more confident when approaching the subject of bullying, there are plenty of free resources available.
You can complete some free training on the subject thanks to the Anti-Bullying Alliance: http://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/onlinetraining
Or for further advice visit:
Gov.co.uk – Bullying at School: https://www.gov.uk/bullying-at-school/reporting-bullying
Anti- Bullying Alliance – Advice for parents:http://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/tools-information/advice-parents
Bullying UK: http://www.bullying.co.uk/