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Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Stop bullying in its tracks

With less than a week until school resumes, it’s not uncommon for children who have previously been bullied to start feeling anxious.

Unexplained stomach aches, restless nights and breathlessness are all signs a child may be the victim of bullying, says Dr Michael Fairley, child psychiatrist at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.

“Many parents launch into a medical journey to find the cause of their child’s medical condition while the underlying problem is missed,” says Dr Fairley.

For parents and teachers it is often difficult to differentiate between bullying and what are expected childhood conflicts in the playground. Bullying can be psychological, including name-calling, teasing and ganging up, or physical, including pushing, shoving or hitting.

While all children can become victims of bullying some children are targeted more than others.

“Children who are bullied are often isolated and have few friends. They usually stand out in some way, perhaps they wear glasses, have braces, are overweight or shorter than their peers,” says Dr Fairley.

Parents can assist in reducing their child’s risk of being bullied by:
* Encouraging social activities – organise outings on the school holidays with other children or encourage your child to take part in after-school activity or hobby.
* Teaching your child to respond effectively to bullies – Rather than ignoring the bullying, children need to be armed with strategies to tackle it, such as:
- Joining a peer support scheme at the school
- Playing near to the teacher on playground duty
- Spending recess in the library
* Approaching the school early on – Schools have very strict policies on bullying. Despite concerns by some parents that approaching the school will worsen the situation, according to Dr Fairley, this is not the case.

For Further Information Contact:

Kylie Rafferty, Public Affairs Department, Tel: (02) 9382 3571 - Mob: 0411 730 842

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