Is your fostered child being bullied?
If you’re concerned the child you are caring for is being bullied, you will want to and need to support them through this difficult period, as bullying can be devastating, especially to a child living in the care system.
The foster carer is the responsible adult and would want to do all they can do to protect the child/young person where possible, but sometimes it can be really difficult to know the best way to help with a bullying situation. One of the main things to remember is bullying victims often feel ashamed and don’t want others to find out what is going on. They will also be scared the bullying will get worse if adults find out whats going on.
Fostered children have less secure backgrounds to other children and due to this they may be easy targets for bullies, who may actively seek them out. Bullies look to identify children and young people who are vulnerable and who have insecurities, or weaknesses which they are then able to exploit.
Signs your foster child is possibly being bullied
- A bullied child is often reluctant to tell
- They will try extremely hard to hide physical evidence of bullying
- They may be reluctant to go to school or the place where bullying may be taking place
- They may change normal routes of travel to school
- They may develop issues with food, alcohol or complain of feeling sick regularly
- They may claim to lose a number of possessions or money
- They may also steal money or things of value to give to the bully
What can you do to help?
Communication with your foster child is crucial in moving forward and progressing with a bullying situation. Talking about general issues which can lead into the bullying discussion is probably is more helpful than directly asking about the bullying.
Sometimes children find particular lessons difficult, so asking whether or not they enjoyed a lesson can help pinpoint if they may need extra help, as well as finding out if there are other things going on in the class, such as bullying or disruption which can be making life more difficult.
It may be a good idea to meet the foster child from school if possible. You can learn a lot from the interaction in thew playground or if the child seems anxious about you going to the school. You may need to mention your concerns to the head or LAC coordinator with a phone call, so other children don’t see what is going on.
Once the foster placements is established, it may be useful to ask the child if they would like to invite anyone home from school, as this may encourage the fostered child to build up some closer friendships away from the school. Also if the child isnt keen on inviting anyone from school this may indicate they have very few friends and may need help with this issue.
If bullying is suspected or confirmed, its a really good idea for the child and foster carers to keep a diary or record all incidents. This may be used as evidence when working with the school or in serious cases with police to address the issues.
For more information, support and resources with regards to bullying, please go to the Anti Bullying Alliance