Bullying isn’t an inevitable part of growing up. Research shows that whether your child is being bullied, being the bully, or watching their friend being bullied, they need help. It affects everyone (even you as parents) and often has a major impact on children’s developing sense of self, school performance and self-esteem (even into adulthood). Often it’s emotionally terrifying – silently imprisoning kids in shame, feeling worthless and desperate.
From shoving, hitting, mocking, threats, name-calling, shunning, spreading rumours or exclusion tactics to forcing victims to do or give them things, bullying is any ongoing/repetitive intentional tormenting. Cyber-buylling –via electronic messaging, online chatroom’s, the internet and social media – is even more complex and has become a major problem worldwide.
Bullying: Warning signs in children
- depression and anxiety – often seen as a nervousness and loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities
- strong feelings of sadness, loneliness, worry and fear
- disturbances in sleep and eating patterns
- health complaints – poor appetite, headaches, abdominal pain, tiredness
- school refusal – skipping class, or dropping out
- performance deteriorates
In cases of cyber-bullying
- loss of/obsessive interest in the computer and cell phone
- won’t talk about what’s going on
- gets stressed when receiving e-mail, texts or instant messages
- withdrawing from family and friends
Remember, bullying is about power, where those with the lowest self-esteem (i.e. the least power) become the victims. Those who bully have unfortunately learnt to feel powerful in destructive ways, and are often doing so from their own previous emotional hurt. Although children may respond differently, they will rarely admit that they’re being bullied (even if you have a close relationship.) This makes it vital to learn more about bullying and seek help for your child. Become involved – check whether your child’s school runs anti-bullying awareness campaigns and has a policy of how to deal with bullying. The best antidote is to help build their self-esteem.
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