Teens’ parents should listen to ‘gut feeling’

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Anti-bullying expert Tarn Felton says parents should listen to their intuition or that “gut feeling” when dealing with teens.

“Parents should listen to that instinct around allowing their children to go to parties, and say ‘No’ if they are not comfortable with it, and explain why they are not comfortable,” Ms Felton said.

Working under the umbrella of Stopping Violence Dunedin, Ms Felton is the co-ordinator for Bail on Bullying and the Dunedin Collaboration Against Family Violence (DCAFV).

The organisation was experiencing a “significant increase” in calls concerning bullying incidents, and increasingly younger people were involved, Ms Felton said.

If trouble occurred, it was important for parents to call on as much support as possible, whether from school, the police or support agencies, she said.

“It is important to encourage young people to become ‘upstanders’, who will stand up and say it is not right if they see bullying, or at least feel secure in asking someone to help in a situation,” Ms Felton said.

Young people needed much support to overcome bullying, whether they were perpetrators or victims, she said.

“I don’t believe that you can feel good after seeing someone getting a hiding and doing nothing,” she said.

“All these kids have goodness in them. We have to find ways to appeal to that.”

School was an important community for young people and it was a concern if children were suffering in those surroundings.

“We have to stand together and make change.”

There were many “stellar” teachers in Dunedin who provided excellent support to the young people in their care.

Stopping Violence Dunedin offered a family-centred programme, entitled Kaiwhakaruruhau, which aimed to help support families to deal with violence and bullying.

This involved creating a family plan and a safety plan, in order to empower young people to overcome bullying.