Bullying can occur through numerous channels (the Internet, text messages, at school, etc.) and kids do not always tell their parents they are being victimized. This is why you need to know how bullying affects your child, what to watch for and how you can help.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, nearly 30 percent of children reported that they were bullied during the 2013 school year.
According to the 2010 Youth Voice Project, the reasons children were bullied most often included:
• Body shape — nearly 40 percent
• Looks in general — 55 percent
• Race — 16 percent
McCallion and Feder’s 2013 report, Student Bullying: Overview of Research, Federal Initiatives, and Legal Issues, states that bullying prevention programs in schools decreases bullying by as much as 25 percent.
The Effects of Bullying
If your child is the victim of a bully, he/she may begin to have low self-esteem. The severe emotional harm caused by bullying can lead to mental health issues. A 2006 report in the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, The Relationship Between Childhood Teasing and Later Interpersonal Functioning, states that these low self-esteem issues can continue into adulthood, long after the bullying has ceased. It does not matter if the bullying is physical or verbal; the effects of both are just as harmful.
Boys and girls who are bullied report:
• Emotional distress
• Low self-esteem
As we have seen in the news, some situations are tragic, ending with a bullied child feeling hopeless and like there is no way out, which leads him/her to commit suicide.
When it comes to bullying, there is always an imbalance of power. The victim is unable to hold his/her own and requires assistance from an adult. Your child may be embarrassed or feel uncomfortable telling you about what he/she is going through. While each child is different, if you notice any of the signs listed below you may want to take action.
Signs that your child may be the victim of bullying include:
• Tries to avoid going to school or is afraid to attend school functions and activities
• Intentionally hurts himself/herself (burning and cutting, etc.)
• Places eating restrictions upon himself/herself
• Seems anxious, moody, withdrawn or depressed
• Loses interest in friends and hobbies
• Has low self-esteem
• Seems to lose items frequently while at school
• Has an unexplainable injury, damaged belongings
• Headaches/stomach aches
• Personality changes
• Has fewer friends or friends do not call anymore
• Drop in grades
• Does not want to ride the bus or carpool
• Frequently visits the school nurse
• Becomes clingy or wants you there when school is dismissed
• Trouble sleeping/nightmares
• Begins wetting the bed
• Extremely tired when he/she wakes up
• Cries while falling asleep
• Unexpectedly changes his/her route for walking home (especially if the new route is inconvenient) or insistently asks you to drive him/her to school.
• Will not use the washrooms at the school/park
• Starts bullying younger children/siblings
• Extremely hungry when he/she comes home (didn’t/couldn’t eat lunch)
• Avoids talking about computer activities and phone conversations
Prevent Your Child from Becoming a Victim
Children who are social and have a core group of friends are less likely to be the victim of a bully. Make sure your child knows his/her self-worth and value, as this raises self-esteem levels. If your child has good self-esteem, he/she can confidently deal with a bully, which takes the target off him/her.
Consider enrolling your child in a class that teaches him/her how to deal with bullies.
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