Everyone knows that bullying in school has reached epidemic proportions. It has also become common knowledge that this type of abuse can hurt victims severely, leaving scars that sometimes last until adulthood. It is therefore important to intervene as soon as possible when any type of bullying starts. The sooner this malicious act is stopped, the better for all concerned. This is why it is important to know at the early stages of bullying, if your child is being victimized.
Certain signs show that a child is experiencing bullying in school. Teachers, parents, and older relatives must learn to be sensitive to these signs and take time to talk to the child seriously to ask what problems he or she might be encountering. Most of all, it is important to listen to what children are saying (or not saying) because often children will not ask for help assertively. In a study, when asked why they did not ask their parents to help when bullies were targeting them many children said they did tell at least one parent but that parent did not believe it. Some also said that it was useless because their parents’ advice didn’t work.
It is easy to ignore warning signs because when children relate to other children, conflicts are to be expected. Moreover, many adults think that bullying is a normal part of growing up. Those who say that probably do not realize that the bullying spoken of today is so severe more than it used to be. Studies show that150,000 students skip classes daily because of bullying in school. Bullying has take on a more aggressive and violent face today and has caused many young people to commit suicide.
Here are some of the symptoms that indicate the possibility that a child is a target of bullying:
• The child displays dread or unhappiness at the prospect of going to school.
• The child does not want to ride the school bus.
• He or she does not want to be left alone in school.
• He or she becomes sullen, withdrawn and talks about being unhappy.
• His or her grades begin to go down; he or she has difficulty concentrating and loses interest in schoolwork.
• The child comes home with bruises, cuts and other unexplainable injuries.
• The child’s clothing, books, valuables are lost or destroyed.
• A normally healthy child begins to have frequent headaches, stomachache, or other illnesses. These may be real or faked.
• Eating habits change. The child either stops eating with the same healthy appetite, starts skipping meals or begins to binge. Sometimes children go home hungry because they skipped lunch at school. This could be because someone took his or her food away.
• He or she has trouble sleeping or has nightmares.
• The child no longer has friends and avoids participating in activities like picnics or excursions.
• He or she says things that indicate feelings of helplessness and low self-esteem.
• He or she runs away from home or talks about suicide. This is alarming and when this happens, help must be sought immediately.
You can take some steps when you observe any of these signs. You begin by talking to your child. Ask questions that can lead to the revelation that he or she is being bullied. For example, ask him why he is so hungry and if someone took his lunch. In addition, make sure you send the message that you are supportive, not angry.
Be on your child’s side and make sure your child knows it. If you feel you cannot handle the problem, seek the help of the teacher or an administrator. Remember, there is a law against bullying now in almost all states and this can be a powerful tool. You may initially feel too distressed to deal with this problem but you can study and learn. Eventually, you will get to the point when you will be able calmly work with your child to overcome this obstacle.