teenagers

Things teenagers say to parents vs what they really mean

What they say: “Whatever”

What they mean: I’ve lost the argument/can’t get my own way and am trying to pretend I don’t care. WHICH I DO!

What they say: “I’m bored/ this is boring”

What they mean: I am feeling agitated and annoyed for no good reason – thanks to hormones. Also, nothing – and I mean nothing – would seem interesting to me right now. You could open a portal to another world and I would find it as dull as watching soaps with Nan.

What they say: “You don’t understand”

What they mean: I am feeling misunderstood and even if you do understand or are trying your hardest to understand, I will get annoyed at you for even thinking you could fathom the problems of such a deeply, complex soul.

What they say: “Yolo”

What they mean: I’m about to do something without thinking about the consequences. Something I am bound to regret.

What they say: “I was just about to do that”

What they mean: I was never, ever, ever going to do that. I don’t know why you even bothered asking me to do it in the first place.

What they say: “Their parents are really cool”

What they mean: But their parents have let them do that thing you won’t let me do, so I am going to try and make you jealous until you change your mind.

 

Friendships and relationships are an important part of young adult life and in this day and age, this extends to connections they may have formed on the internet.

You might be worried about your child’s safety, however, it is important that you build a relationship where your child feels they are able to talk openly with you about their online activity without provoking judgement or a negative reaction – such as you limiting their access to the computer or mobile phone. Our Valentine’s study revealed that 55% of respondents overall had, at some point experienced a virtual, romantic, relationship with somebody they had never met. The data shows that young people who do not identify as being exclusively attracted to members of the opposite sex, those with a disability, those who identify as transgendered or respondents from lower-income backgrounds are the most likely to have engaged in a virtual relationship with somebody online.

While virtual relationships are often blamed for a wider disconnection between people and our ability to communicate in offline environments, our research has forced us to acknowledge the positives of conducting a romantic relationship in such a way. Virtual relationships allow for human connection, contact and gratification – things which for some, might be challenging to obtain or experience in the physical world. Those with a disability, for example, can also choose how much they disclose about their disability and can present themselves how they wish. Many young adults find relief and freedom from some of the prejudices they have encountered offline.

1. Keep an open dialogue.

We advise talking openly with your child and creating an environment in which they feel able to approach you. It is important that you do not patronise your child when speaking to them about their virtual relationship – to them, it will be just as meaningful as an offline relationship. Reassure them you will be there to support them every step of the way and you are there if they need to talk. Spend time with them, make sure they know they are not alone and encourage conversation around their online activity, or who they might be virtually dating in a way that doesn’t seem like you are prying.

2. Get to grips with the technology.

To get a better understanding of what sites and technologies your child might be using, take time to get to grips with it yourself. Read up on it, sign up to it and explore it. It will be easier to talk to your child about it if you are able to hold your own in the conversation. It also means you will be able to offer them advice on how to stay safe on a particular platform and they will be more likely to respect your opinion and listen if they know you are clued up on it.

3. Don’t punish them for being honest with you.

Reassure them that they will not be punished or chastised for talking about their online activity or seeking help. Often children do not confide in their parents because they are fearful of the consequences; make sure they feel comfortable talking about their experiences and that they feel they can confide in you without fear of being reprimanded. For example, if you threaten to limit the time they spend online as a preventative measure, you are essentially punishing them for being honest with you – this may mean they do not seek your support in the future when something is wrong.

4. Advise them on how to stay safe online and teach them ‘netiquette’.

Their safety is your priority. Make sure your child’s privacy settings are high and remind them to be careful when connecting with anybody who they do not know offline. Make sure they are aware that people may not always be who they say they are and that they could be putting themselves and those closest to them at risk.

Advise them that they should never give away personal details like their full name, telephone, address etc to someone they have not met offline either. If somebody is exhibiting threatening behaviour, or has their personal information and is giving them the impression that their safety might be at risk, contact the police immediately.

Teach your child how to behave properly online; help them to understand that their behaviour in online environments should reflect their offline behaviour – they may have forgotten that there is a person behind the profile. Remind them to be respectful of themselves and not to share anything online that they wouldn’t be happy with people seeing offline.

5. Give them solutions to potential problems.

For example, make them aware that if they ever feel like a situation is getting out of control, they have your unconditional support. You could also give them the contact details of Ditch the Label or an organisation like Childline (0800 11 11) if you feel they are more likely to want to seek external support.

Categories
Parents

When Teachers Don’t Act

All state schools (but not private schools) by law, must have a behaviour policy in place which includes measures to prevent bullying. Some schools will have a separate anti-bullying policy. There is no standardised policy across the UK that all schools must follow – it is decided upon by individual educational establishments so there can be a huge variation from school to school. The policy has to be made available to all staff, pupils and parents. It covers the behaviour and conduct of pupils before, after and during the school day.

UK schools must also follow and abide by the anti-discrimination law to prevent harassment and bullying within their school.

It is important to know that although bullying itself is not a crime and has no legal definition, some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. These include: violence or assault, theft, harassment or intimidation (e.g. abusive or threatening calls, emails, letters or texts) and hate crimes. School staff can also report bullying to the police.

  • In most circumstances, you should report any bullying to the school in the first instance
  • Keep clear records of all contact with the school; phone calls, text messages, visits and meetings
  • The school will deal with the situation in different ways depending upon the severity of the bullying. This could include; disciplinary measures, mediation, exclusion or restorative justice
  • Any action must take account of any special educational needs or disabilities that the pupils have

Typical process of complaints:

Teacher > Senior Teacher (Head of Year/Department) > Assistant Head Teacher > Head Teacher > Board of Governors > Local Education Authority OFSTED > Department for Education

If you are not satisfied with the school’s action:

  • Raise the situation with the school governors
  • Make a formal complaint to the Local Education Authority (LEA)
  • Complain to OFSTED on 0300 123 1231 or [email protected]

If you believe that you child is being discriminated against, contact:

  • Equality Advisory & Support Service (EASS): 0808 800 0082 (Text Phone 0808 800 0084) for help and advice.

Discrimination can include (but is not limited to); race, colour, nationality, religion, belief, disability, sexual identity, gender or sexual orientation.

Bullying can of course affect anyone, often leaving young people feeling vulnerable and isolated. This is particularly true for young people with SEN&D (Special Educational Needs and Disability) who may already be experiencing this, thereby creating a double disadvantage.

What the Stats Tell Us

While we shouldn’t assume that all SEN&D young people will be bullied, the facts make for worrying reading. Each year Ditch the Label produces an in-depth bullying survey and from this we know that:

  • 63% of those with a physical disability are far more likely to experience extreme bullying and social exclusion.
  • 67% have self-harmed and 40% have tried to take their own lives.
  • 74% of those with Asperger Syndrome or Autism experience bullying, with verbal bullying being particularly severe.

That this is happening at all should be enough for us to sit up and take notice but considering these figures are significantly above the national average means intervention, action and education is vital and that current approaches are not working.

Bullying can happen in any environment, including special schools, but with many SEN&D young people spending much of their school life in mainstream education, the risks are increased. There are many valuable benefits for inclusion in terms of personal and educational development for all pupils, but it can leave SEN&D pupils vulnerable to the prejudices surrounding disability.

Schools must ensure that they encourage a ‘whole school’ culture of education and respect, which includes the wider community, parents and carers. Negative attitudes towards disability and other conditions need to be addressed from very early on in education and then reinforced as standard throughout school life. SEN&D children may already be treated differently by the adults around them and be doing different schoolwork, so it is vital that this is incorporated into the classroom as smoothly as possible.

Many young people with Asperger Syndrome or Autism can experience huge problems with communication, which makes forming and maintaining friendships difficult. They may not recognise when they are being bullied and additionally, their ability to communicate concerns or to report bullying will be considerably more difficult.

Top Recommendations

Parents, guardian, teachers and other staff members need to be tuned in to the communication style of SEN&D children and young people and the things that they, and their peers are saying. They must be ready to take action where appropriate without stereotyping anyone as a victim.

It is vital to keep an open dialogue with all children around subjects like bullying so that it is never a taboo or awkward conversation. It may be necessary to take a different approach if you suspect someone with SEN&D is being bullied due to their age and level of understanding. For example a direct question may not be the best approach; rather a general chat around the subject giving them the opportunity to voice concerns. If vocal communication is extremely difficult or impossible, then a useful approach can be drawing or using visual prompts like facial expressions.

Every school and college has a legal obligation to safeguard children and young people and this covers the entire day, including breaks and lunch, which can be particularly problematic. But we each have a responsibility to assist in the prevention of bullying.

Parents and guardians can maintain good communication with schools, especially with class teachers and SENCO staff so any issues can be responded to swiftly and dealt with appropriately. This may need to be more than just using a home/school diary.

Ensure that your child knows you are listening and taking it seriously and take the time to reassure them that you will do all you can to sort out any problems. If you feel you need extra support approaching a parents support group that is specific to your child’s condition can be extremely useful.

Ditch the Label are committed to working for a future that is free from bullying and discrimination for ALL young people.

If you would like to find out more or need advice or support please contact us.