Do you think your child is being bullied? Wondering whether homeschooling can help your bullied child heal? Read this post for helpful information.
Bullying is one of the top reasons parents choose to homeschool their children, and with good reason. Bullying is toxic to mental, emotional and physical health, slows down a child’s ability to learn and also negatively affects the children who see it happening.
But how does homeschooling help heal this problem?
In this article, I’ll review the following:
- What bullying is
- Some of the latest statistics on bullying
- Stories of parents whose children were bullied and recovered by homeschooling
- How homeschooling helps a bullied child heal (versus escaping from the so-called “real world”)
- How to spot the signs if your child is being bullied
- What to do next
What is bullying?
Bullying can include any of the following behaviours:
- people calling you names, insulting, mocking and belittling you
- making up stories to get you into trouble
- hitting, pinching, biting, pushing, shoving, kicking you
- taking things away from you, stealing from you
- taking your friends away from you
- spreading rumours about you
- being threatened, intimidated or harrassed
Statistically, how bad is this problem?
Very very bad. It’s real. If you think this only happens to a few children here and there or to those who simply aren’t tough enough to stand up for themselves, it’s not that simple. Let’s review some of the latest statistics on bullying:
How many kids are bullied?
On average, nearly 1 in 5 students report being bullied during the school year (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES,2019).
Sixth grade tends to be the peak phase, with the highest percentage of bullying at 29% (NCES, 2018).
According to the most recent study by UNESCO that compiled data from global and regional surveys covering 144 countries, one in three students have been physically, violently bullied at school at least once in the last month.
What are the most common reasons for being bullied?
Children who stand out as different in any way are a target. Physical appearance tends to be the number one reason for bullying, and race, nationality or colour is a close second. Other common reasons include gender, disability, religion, and/or sexual orientation.
What is the most common type of bullying?
Physical bullying is the most common, but psychological bullying is more common in North America and Europe.
Sadly, sexual bullying is the second most common type of bullying in many regions.
Boys tend to get bullied physically, and girls tend to get bullied psychologically.
How does bullying affect children?
- It affects their mental, emotional, and physical health as well as their ability to achieve academically.
- Bullied children are far more likely to feel like outsiders at school and be absent than their unbullied peers.
- They are more likely to drop out of school early.
- There are many more effects but these are the main ones.
I recently reached out to some parents to share their stories of how their children were bullied, what happened and how they improved after homeschooling. Reading their comments and emails quickly brought me to my knees…
Charlene Naidoo shared: “One of the worst incidents of bullying my daughter endured nearly cost her her life. She had such a severe asthma attack, I watched her die in front of me, but thankfully doctors were able to resuscitate and place her on life support. It took me two more years to remove her and my son from school, as homeschooling is frowned on in our community.”
Thankfully, both her children recovered and are doing very well today.
Anneke Maritz Visser shared a similar story: “My son’s teacher put him alone in the school’s kitchen at the age of five while he was having an asthma attack. He told her he couldn’t breathe and she thought he was being naughty.”
Unfortunately, teachers and principals can bully children just as badly and more than their peers. I myself experienced this when a teacher threw a board cleaner at my head when I wasn’t paying attention. Another time, I was bullied by other students in front of the entire class, and neither the principal nor the teacher did anything substantial to address the situation. This happened in a private school. It was the start of a very downhill road in school at that time for me. As anyone with experience of bullying at a young age would know, it takes some work to get over it.
How does homeschooling help children heal?
- Gives a break
- Chance to explore interests
- Time for counseling, processing, and reflection
- Reaffirm relationship with your child, reaffirm who they are
Let me use another parent’s story to illustrate.
Zelna Tertius Bruwer shared: “We moved to the UK when my daughter was 7. We are Afrikaans. We sent her to a pre-school up to grade R. My girlie went from a blossom to a wreck. The teachers were ok, but the other kids were horrible. This little girl with a strange accent was just not one of the pack. She was verbally and physically bullied. I had meetings with the teachers, begging them to help. It would go fine for a day or two and then start again. So we took her out and started homeschooling again. The best move ever! She shone.
When we came back to SA, we continued with homeschooling. She made friends wherever she went. Looking at her now, she is a gorgeous confident young lady. She moved to another town to study at the beginning of this year. Staying on her own, she’s taking care of herself at 19. She is popular with students and lecturers and even the office staff. I am sure that this would have not been the case if we didn’t step in and start homeschooling.”
Isn’t it just an escape? Won’t the problem still be there later?
No, it’s a break for a child who is not emotionally mature enough to cope with such behaviour. It gives a child time to breathe, regroup, recover and rebuild self-confidence. They can then return with new skills to retackle the problem.
Yes, there will always be bullies in the world. But wouldn’t you rather teach your child how to handle it while rebuilding their self-esteem at the same time, and introducing them to healthier socialisation opportunities before reintroducing them to an environment of bullying?
Assuming your child will learn to cope in a healthy way through constant toxic exposure to bullies is like assuming your child will adapt to drinking poison without understanding how poison actually works.
Signs your child is being bullied
Cyberbullying.org lists the following signs that could indicate your child is a victim of bullying:
- Your child unexpectedly stops using his/her electronic devices
- They appear nervous when using their devices
- Seems reluctant about going to school or going outside
- Seems angry, depressed or sad
- Oversleeping or struggling to sleep
- Making suicidal statements
- A major increase or decrease in eating
Other signs may include:
- Secretive behaviour
- Avoiding conversation
- Constant unexplained sickness, headaches, abdominal pain, frequently feeling too ill to go to school or wanting to leave school early
- Stopping participation in sports, hobbies or other pastimes they enjoyed.
What to do next
If you’ve read the signs above and feel your gut telling you, this is your child’s situation, take a deep breath. If you are a praying person, pray for wisdom, courage and the grace to forgive those who are hurting your child.
You need to be calm before you try to bring this up in conversation with your child, or they will freak out. Be a calm, compassionate safe parent they can talk to. Open the discussion gently, ask a question or two and let them talk.
Report the incident. Record all evidence. Take pictures, screenshots, write down names, dates, times, what happened. Take it to the district authorities and department of education. If there was any sexual bullying, press charges at the police station.
If there is no further response, consider changing schools immediately or at least giving your child a break for a week or two until you’ve figured out what to do. Consider homeschooling with a tutor. Research your options and talk to other parents who have been through this.
Every situation is different, some cases are worse than others, but bullying is bullying and should be taken seriously in EVERY case.
Some final thoughts on how homeschooling can help your bullied child
Your child is worth whatever sacrifice you need to make to deal with this, including homeschooling. Your child needs to know that he/she is a bigger priority than the curriculum and school system because you can complete an education anytime with sufficient commitment. Restoring a broken child in adulthood is far more costly.
If you struggle with the idea of giving up a lot more of your own space and time to homeschool your child, consider the benefits. Remember that you, as the parent, only have a few years to exert the maximum positive influence on your child before they leave for university and their own adult lives. Wouldn’t it be worth the character building and sacrifice to make the most of this short time you have together? You don’t need to do it alone either. There’s so much support available today, at the very least online if not in your local community.
Again, restoring a broken child in adulthood is far more costly – to you, to them, to their career, their financial security, their future relationships and their ability to cope in the world.
Whatever you choose, be confident in your decision. If it doesn’t work out as you’d hoped, learn from it and try something else. You’ll be just fine and it will work out eventually, even if it is really hard right now.
Life is about more than just being hard and tough enough. It’s about knowing who you are to be able to deal with the world in a healthy way, without becoming hard yourself.
For more info on how homeschooling can help your bullied child heal, read Part 2 on this topic.
If your child was bullied, how did homeschooling help him/her? Please share your story in the comments below to encourage other parents.
Please share this article with friends and family as well. Let’s look out for each other.