The prospect of weeks away from the discipline of school when each morning is met with forming plans for the rest of the day with family and friend, hopefully enjoying the sunshine, provides a welcome break, particularly if the last few weeks of school has meant studying for and sitting exams.
But for some, enjoying the summer holiday is not really an option, not when you have been subjected to bullying and are fearful of what awaits you when schools return.
What should be the happiest time of their young lives is marred by the activities of bullies who can make their lives a misery on a regular, sometimes daily, basis.
We know from advice on bullying that it can happen both face-to-face and online and can include name calling, being hit or pushed, having your belongings taken or damaged and being ignored. It goes further, with some children suffering as rumours are spread about them or nasty comments are made on line, or more directly in private, abusive messages.
Any of these examples serve as a demonstration of how the actions of others can have a serious impact on the lives of fellow pupils. Advice on how to spot if your child may be being bullied at school can be found on various websites which can provide invaluable information. Some tell-tale signs may include; uncharacteristic outbursts of tears or anger, your child constantly telling you that they want to stay at home or for them to start making excuses like saying that they feel sick on school days - despite being fine and full of energy at the weekends.
Psychologist, Anjula Mutanda, tells parents they should stay calm. She says: “It’s natural to feel anger or frustration at the thought that your child is suffering. However, your child needs to feel safe and to know that it’s ok to share difficult feelings. If your child is being bullied at school, it can have a negative impact on their mental health and that’s why it is so important to create a safe space at home where they feel supported and loved and know that they did the right thing to speak up and tell you, so that you can help them.”
She goes on to suggest that parents should ask questions to help get a sense of their child’s world at school.
"Try to find out if they have friends at school or who they spend time with at break time or lunch time. If they don’t have friends or spend time alone, they may be having a tough time with the other kids,” she says.
Having established that your child is suffering at the hands of bullies there is no shortage of advice on how to report it. The City of Edinburgh Council has a procedure in place for dealing with all aspects of bullying and how to report it which can be found on it’s website.
Holidays should be a happy time, it’s a great shame that the thought of going back to school once they end makes some kids miserable.