Parents feel ill-equipped to deal with the problem of bullying, research has found.
The results of the survey of more than 400 Australian parents by youth mental health organisation headspace were released on March 15, the National Day Against Bullying.
The survey found only one in seven parents were confident they would recognise the signs that their child was bullying others.
Headspace chief executive, Chris Tanti, said bullying behaviour could be a red flag for other problems.
“We know that children who have been bullied themselves are more likely to bully others if the distress isn’t resolved,’’ he said.
“Look out for changes in behaviour like increased frustration and aggression or if they are becoming more argumentative or defiant than usual.
“Friendship groups can also influence the behaviour of a young person so it’s important that parents have a good understanding of who their child’s friends are and what their relationships and interactions are like.
“It’s only when the underlying issues associated with bullying are addressed that this negative behaviour will really start to shift.’’
Mr Tanti said parents had an important role to play in helping to reduce the incidence of bullying.
“Bullying doesn’t just occur among young people at school, it happens in the workplace and in the political arena every day,’’ he said.
‘‘Parents and adults need to teach by example and show young people that bullying isn’t acceptable.”
Head of adolescent medicine at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Susan Towns, said parents and schools should share the responsibility of educating children about bullying, particularly in the online environment where socially anxious teens are most vulnerable.
‘‘That sense of distance [a computer creates] is falsely reassuring and they might disclose things that they wouldn’t say in person,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s no good having a safety net at school if the parents are fearful of the technology.
‘‘It’s not just the responsibility of the school, it’s about schools and families working together.’’
Bullying - The stats:
●Almost half of parents (45 per cent) said bullies should be punished.
●95percent of parents believe a bully should get help.
●50 per cent of Australian teens have witnessed cruel behaviour directed at a classmate or friend online.
●One in four said they’d been the target of bullying behaviour.
●Of 24 per cent of teens who report being the victim of cyber bullying, only 17 per cent of parents would have guessed their child had been the target of cyber bullying.
●In cases of cyber bullying, more than 40 per cent of teens said they tell the perpetrators to stop and more than 40 per cent talk to parents, teachers or other adults about the behaviour.
Source: The Secret Life of Teens report - 2012, Headspace survey.