Friends wants to create a large network of people working actively to promote security and equality and prevent discrimination, harassment and offensive treatment. This doesn’t have to be a difficult task – start with yourself!
The more people who become aware of their own everyday behaviour, the better the chances of achieving a safe society. It’s all about how you talk to and behave with your family, with friends, at work, at school, at sports clubs or when you’re out among strangers. Here are some tips from Friends that you can use!
Talk about friendship and exclusion. When your child talks about things that have happened at school or when they’ve been out playing, take notice and ask what your child thinks about what happened. Was it okay for them to do what they did? What could they have done instead? How would you have felt if it’d happened to you? What can you do if you see anything like this happening again? You can also ask which classmates your child normally plays with, if there’s anyone that lots of people want to play with and why, and if there’s anyone who gets left out.
Listen to your child and take their tales seriously so that they feel that you’re listening to them properly, no matter what they tell you. Your child must also feel they have your support when they need help, but also have confidence in themselves. Avoid saying things like: ”Just ignore them, that’ll make them stop”. All this does is let your child know someone is bullying them while telling them nothing can be done about it. In other words, your child has to just put up with the situation and lock the pain inside. Instead, help your child to devise strategies on how to deal with various situations or problems that may occur.
Give your child the tools they need to resolve conflicts effectively. Remember, your child will adopt the methods you use for problem resolution within the family.
Have a think about how you talk at home. Do you talk a load of nonsense at times? What prejudices and norms are you passing on to your children? For instance, do you assume they’ll fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, or do you ask open questions which give your children the opportunity to give a different response?
At your child’s school or preschool
As an adult, you’ll always be a role model. This is why you have to be aware of how you behave when you’re at preschool or school. Am I the kind of person who speaks up when I see someone being nasty to another child? How would I react if I heard someone shouting ”pussy” or ”queer” in the corridor? Do I keep my shoes on even though the children have to take theirs off?
Give attention to children other than just your own. Learn the names of the other children in the class and at your child’s after-school clubs. Ask what the matter is if someone looks sad, and say positive things when you have the opportunity.
Maintain positive communication with and relating to the school. Never say bad things about your child’s school or staff in front of your children (even if you’re critical of them). Create lines of communication with staff early on. Don’t wait until something has happened. If you maintain good relations with your child’s school, the chances are greater that you’ll find out earlier when something’s not quite right, and that makes it easier to resolve problems.
Get to know your child’s school! Turn up at parent meetings, and play your part in the school’s security work. One thing many parents find to be very instructive is spending the day with your child at preschool or school. This will allow you to see things such as groups that have formed, power structures and whether anyone is left out. If you like, have a chat with the teachers afterwards about both positive and negative things you saw.
Maintain positive communication with and relating to the parents of other children. If parents have good relationships between themselves, this can usually be passed on to their children. If, on the other hand, you say bad things about other children’s parents, your child might bear it in mind at school and take it out on the child from the other family. When you maintain open communication with other parents, this also increases your chances of finding out if there are problems with a child and calling a halt to such matters.
Speak up if you see something happening, even if you don’t know the children involved. It’s very likely they’ll tell you ”We were just mucking around”, but in that case just come back with ”I thought it looked a bit nasty”. Risk being a ”boring grown-up”. If you do, you’ll at least have shown that the children doing the teasing and their victim that you’re an adult who can see what’s going on and cares.
Find out what the school does to prevent harassment, discrimination and bullying. What preventive measures do they have in place, and what do they do in emergencies? Find out about your school’s equal treatment plan, and share your thoughts and views with the school.
Let the staff know immediately if you suspect that any child is having difficulties. The school has to investigate immediately, even if it’s only a suspicion. It’s better to risk being wrong than to put your child at risk. Contact the headteacher or chief education officer if the teacher doesn’t listen.
At your child’s sports club
If you are a leader of a sporting activity or a highly engaged parent, you’re a role model for children – your own and others’! Your use of language, body language and actions affect children more than you think. So try to be positive and praise the children during training, competitions and matches. This paves the way for their personal and sporting development. Your praise and positive attitude will also engender a good atmosphere within the team and the club as a whole.
Dare to act and speak up if you hear or see a parent using negative language or behaviour while watching a match or competition. Offensive and derogatory comments have no place at sporting events!Remember, the needs of the children must always be met. Respect your child’s sporting objectives and don’t force your own on them.
Focus on the fun aspect rather than performance. After each session, ask your child ”Did you have fun today?” rather than ”Did it all go well today?” Result fixing can create hierarchies in sports teams which can lead to abusive situations.
The leader’s job is to lead the team. This is not the parent’s role. So never get involved in the training setup unless you’re the leader. If, on the other hand, you notice that the leaders upset the children while they lead them, you have to act by contacting the people responsible for the club.
Find out about and read the club’s policy on sports for children and young people (if it has one). Contact the main leaders of the club if you have any questions on the policy. What targets and ambitions does the club have for its work with children and young people? Does it have measures in place to prevent discrimination, offensive treatment and bullying?
In the workplace
Say hi to your colleagues! This might seem like a small thing, but you have to make your face known.Make the time for breaks – it’s been scientifically proven that taking social breaks is good for both the atmosphere in the workplace and the work you do. Sit next to various colleagues in the lunch room so that you get to know several people. Think in particular about the people who seem not to be part of the group.
Have a think about how you speak. What prejudices, norms and stereotypical notions do you convey? Do you take it for granted that everyone at your place of work is straight, and do you talk in a way that makes it clear you think that people of a certain religion or skin colour have specific traits? You might be excluding colleagues from the group without even being aware of it.
Don’t listen when people talk nonsense or tell insulting jokes that raise a laugh at the expense of others. Change the subject, get up and leave, say you don’t agree with what’s being said, that you don’t know the person or that you don’t know what things are like for them. If you’re not comfortable with such talk, you at least don’t need to take part in the conversation yourself.
Talk to your manager immediately if you think someone in the team is suffering discrimination, harassment or other offensive treatment. Maybe it looks as though someone is being ignored by everyone, or that someone else is the team’s scapegoat. Your manager is obliged to find out what’s going on and take action in such instances.
You can support the person who’s upset or being left out by just showing that you know what’s going on and you care. Don’t get involved in offensive treatment, smile, sit next to them in the canteen/lunch room, ask what they’re working on at the moment, and listen if they need to talk. The little things count. You often don’t need to do much to help people feel better.
Speak out! If you like, you can also point out to the person who’s upsetting the victim that you don’t agree with what they’re doing. When and how you should speak out depends on the person in question and the situation. Of course, things are easier if it’s a colleague you know well, and if you have a high status within the team there’s more chance of you being taken seriously. But everyone can at least talk to the management about the problems. It might be worth bearing in mind that people who insult others might be insecure and suffering themselves, for whatever reason. If so, then just like everyone else they need to make themselves seen and heard. That’s why it might be worth being nice even to people who are nasty by smiling or chatting to them, for example! Show that the problem is with the behaviour, not the person!