Bullying is thought of as being an ordinary passage of growing up. We all remember being pelted with some sort of hurtful words. Some kids remember being beat up on the play ground. Although this wounded many children of generations past it wasn’t always taken seriously. When we hear the word bully we go back to that behavior. However, bullying has changed. It is more than words or getting teased up on the playground. It is inescapable harassment, physical assault, verbal abuse, and a constant barrage of cyber attacks that leave kids feeling defeated, fearful, and alone.
According to Maureen Hackett, who is a mental health child advocate, children and teens are at fragile stages in terms of their sense of identity and self esteem. Their relationship with peers is an integral part of how they see themselves, as well as their sense of worth, and this is one of the aspects that make bullying so dangerous. Hackett goes on to say that the young victims look to their parents and other adults in their life for validation, appreciation and protection. When parents, teachers, or other adults in the child’s life don’t take it seriously or help the child, they are hurt further and many times this intensifies the actual bullying the child is experiencing. There is no escape for the child. When previously children were able to escape to their homes, now there is an onslaught of cyber bullying so that the actual terrorizing is continuing in the child’s own room.
What can we do to help with this crisis that happens every day, everywhere, to many children? The first step may be getting involved with law. Encourage the state to recognize bullying as a form of abuse. The word “bullying” minimizes what our children are going through on an emotional level (and many times physical). They are being terrorized.
Warning signs your child is being bullied:
• Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings.
• Unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches.
• They complain about not having friends.
• They seem afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs)
• No interest in school or their grades begin to struggle with school.
• Weepy, sad, moody, or depressed when they come home from school.
• Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments
• Experiences a loss of appetite or they may begin gaining weight.
• Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem.
The best advice I can give parents regarding helping your child is the most important one. Take it seriously. Do not minimize it and write everything down.
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