By Debra Bacon
Bullying: a new epidemic?
Bullying is becoming an epidemic in our schools, cyberspace, parks and other areas where kids hang out. Its affect on children can be lasting, even following them into adulthood. It is vital to deal with bullying swiftly and lovingly.
The times of a simple trip in the isle, just for the fun of it, between friends has passed. Today children are faced with far more intimidating tactics.
Often, kids are attacked while others look on, without going for, or helping the victim. Children are often afraid to say anything to anyone for fear of retaliation.
Know the signs
Identifying the signs of bullying is a key element in protecting your child, and keeping them safe.
Your child’s behavior will offer tell-tale signs bullying may be occurring. Following are a few things to watch for:
- Lack of appetite
- Decreased interest in school/social activities
- Few, if any close friends
- Trouble sleeping
- Stomach aches and other ailments
- Unexplained bruises, cuts or scrapes
- Missing or damaged personal items
How you can help
If you notice you child manifesting any, or a number of these behaviors, it is time to talk--reach out with a kind, loving arm. Get as many details as you can about the bullying incidents. They may be reluctant to speak to you about the situation at first. Often this is because of misplaced blame or shame.
It is important to reassure your child they are safe. Express how much you want to help them overcome this situation. They are likely not the only child being harassed by the bully.
Talk with school officials, such as the counselor, principal or other significant policy makers about the danger your child is facing.
Be persistent, and follow up. Ensure changes are made to eliminate the threat. Furthermore, depending on the type of abuse your child is being subject to, criminal charges may be in order.
Talk to your child about how to handle the bullying. Encourage them to remain calm when confronted. Tell them to be firm when they speak to the aggressor. Offer suggestions of what they may say, such as: “Stop what you are doing right now.” Stress the importance of walking away. Never encourage aggression, or similar bad behavior.
Encourage your child to make friends with people in his class. Children should walk in pairs or small non-threatening groups. Especially when going to the bathroom, lunch, playground and other potentially isolated areas.
General rule of thumb
Monitor your child’s activity. Such as, know who their friends are, and be involved as much as you can in their lives. Be careful of what you allow your children to watch on television and videos. Behavior breeds behavior, and violence can lead to violence.
Computers are a way of life these days. As such, the newest form of bullying or threat can come from the internet. As much, if not more, as you would monitor what your children read and watch, the same should apply to the internet. Cyber bullying has lead to mental breakdowns, violent acts, sexual assaults, murder and suicide. Any type of bullying has this potential. If suppressed, an individual can move through life harboring a lot of resentment, guilt and shame.
Knowing when to intervene and get professional help is paramount. It can eliminate or assist in treating more complicated mental conditions, such as anxiety disorders, resulting from bullying.