Your Dilemmas: My daughter just started secondary school and is being bullied

In her weekly column Joan Long, a Bishopstown psychologist and psychotherapist, answers readers’ queries. This week parents have aired their concerns about their daughter being bullied
Your Dilemmas: My daughter just started secondary school and is being bullied
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Dear Joan,

My daughter started secondary school a few weeks ago and it has been awful. She is being bullied constantly by a group of girls who were in her primary school and a few others. They are calling her names like “fat” and “a slob”, under their breath as they pass her.

She is in an awful way every day when she gets home. She is now getting sick every morning, doesn’t sleep hardly at night and has almost stopped eating.

I feel like slapping these girls as I know a few of them since junior infants and they have turned into nasty, heartless, cruel girls.

My daughter is quiet and I believe she is a good girl — not perfect, but I do not believe she would be cruel like they are!

I have talked to her about how to react but nothing has worked. The girls are devious in how they do this. My daughter is ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated.

My husband and I want to go to the school but she has forbade us as she says it will make it worse. These girls will find out and it will then be used against her and make it so much worse.

We know the school must be used to dealing with these kind of things but don’t want to make her feel worse.

What can we do? We are in an awful state.

Dear Reader,

You are correct, this cannot keep going on! Your daughter needs help immediately — as she is suffering badly, as you know too well.

It is awful for you as parents too as you are helpless to some extent — when she leaves you to go to school she is out of your sight and of course you worry.

You need to go to the school principal immediately and tell them what is happening. I suggest you do this without your daughter knowing to start with. You can tell her later when there’s a plan in place. But for now I would not stress her further. You all need the help of the school to deal with this.

Unfortunately, there is a huge amount of this going in all schools but it must be stopped within the school.

Your daughter has suffered long enough so please get onto the school immediately as they will want to help.

Remember that the HSE has services to help, your GP is there, and there are private therapists and people like me there to help. But to be fair, the schools tend to have excellent services and supports to help the students. This is done through their guidance/counseling service and class head teachers, etc, so you can avail of all that is there for you and your daughter.

Don’t sit on this, get straight into it as being bullied is probably the most common form of ‘trauma’ human beings regularly go through nowadays. She needs help and support to help her heal and take control of her environment: rebuild confidence and support her now.

It will be a slow road to begin with but can be done with the right help and support, and she has you too which is huge for her

Best of luck, reader, but ACT NOW!

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