Bullying is more common than you think. Read on to know the tell-tale signs that your child is being bullied.
If you’re wondering how to know if someone is being bullied, then you’ve come to the right place. Bullying harms the victim in more ways than most people expect. This is especially true if the victim is a child. If your own child is being the subject of a bully’s actions, it means that his or her peers are deliberately causing your child pain. This is also known as peer abuse. To most people, the thought of a minor suffering under the hands of their own friends is despicable.
Is Bullying Common?
Unfortunately, bullying is not a rare occurrence. In the UK, as many as 160,000 children shy away from school each day because they’re afraid they will be attacked or intimidated by their fellow students.
Various surveys have reported that bullying today is exhibited at younger ages than ever before and the occurrence is more frequent and also more aggressive than ever. Bullies tend to increase their cruelty as they grow older. All these factors increase the chances your child will be bullied.
How Victims Act
What is also alarming is how children don’t always tell parents or other trusted grown ups that they are experiencing pain under the hands of bullies. Most of the victims are very much in deep emotional pain yet it’s not common for these children to open up and alert the proper authorities.
When asked why victims don’t tell on their bullies, some children report that they did in fact tell a parent or teacher but they were met with disbelief. Other victims report they were too embarrassed to discuss the bullying while others are afraid of telling their parents because they fear how the parents will treat the bully. There are even some who claim they didn’t bother telling grown ups because of past experiences where they opened up about bullying but nothing helped.
Signs of Bullying
When repeated bullying is involved—which is typically the case with bullies—the victim experiences severe emotional pain and the episodes erode the self-esteem and mental health of children. The bullying could be in various forms: physical, relational or verbal. Whatever the case may be, there are long-term consequences that the victim will most probably have to deal with.
It’s not just boys who experience bullying or who act as bullies. Both boys and girls have claimed they experienced severe levels of emotional pain, loneliness, lower self-esteem, depression and anxiety. In some extreme circumstances, the victim may even be lead to commit suicide.
If your child is being bullied, you might notice certain warning signs. These include injuries that seem unexplainable at first, or perhaps your child refuses to discuss the source of the injuries. You might notice your child is missing items like books, clothes, electronics and other valuable things. Bullies may also damage their victims’ personal effects.
Other signs to look out for are:
- Declining school grades and a decreasing interest in school work
- The victim may not want to attend school
- Frequent stomach aches or stomach aches, feeling sick for no apparent reason or faking illness
- Problems falling asleep or the occurrence of frequent nightmares
- The victim may exhibit signs of helplessness or decreased self confidence
- Alterations in your child’s eating habits—for example he or she may start skipping meals or binge eating out of nowhere. Many victims return home from school starving since the bully took their lunch.
- Sudden loss of friends or the child may suddenly avoid social situations
- Self-destructive tendencies like cutting themselves, drug use, running away from home or openly discussing suicide
Bullying and Appearances
As mentioned earlier, boys aren’t the only victims of bullying or the bully themselves. Girls can also be very cruel towards each other. Research conducted in England and Wales discovered that over half the young women surveyed have experienced bullying in school, often times these girls were bullied because of how they look.
The research spoke with girls between the ages of 15 and 22. It was found that 56 % of these girls were abused physically or verbally. The bullies would make fun of the victims’ facial characteristics, weight, hair colour, height and other physical attributes.
Based on research conducted by Rathbone, a youth charity, one in five of the girls they spoke with claimed they considered themselves happy with their own physical appearance. Over half of the respondents admitted they went on a diet after being bullied. 53 per cent said they had since gone on a diet. Being overweight was the primary reason these victims were bullied. Hair colour came after. The studies found that girls with red hair were often the target of bullies.
Again, over half of the girls who admitted they were victims of bullies skipped school. There was even one girl who claimed she skipped school for six months and she also didn’t take her SAT exams. Almost half of these young women said they skipped meals to lose weight, in hopes of stopping their bullies. Some would even go as far as taking laxative pills to keep their weight down.
What You Can Do
So, is your child being bullied? After reading the signs listed above and you suspect your child is a victim, there are certain things you can do. Remember children don’t typically inform adults that bullying is happening so you will have to speak up first. Ask your son or daughter questions like:
- “You’re hungry again. Have you been eating your meals in school?”
- “Your new bag is missing. What happened to it? Did someone take it?”
- “I notice you have a bruise on your arm. Can you please tell me what happened?”
Observe how your child reacts. Often he or she doesn’t say will instead be disclosed through body language. A silent answer can mean something is wrong.
If you think bullying is involved, arrange a meeting with a trusted grown up who also knows your son or daughter. You may have to meet with more than one teacher or other authority figure from school. Not all bullying occurs in school. The vital thing is to find out if your child is a victim of bullying and where and when it happens. This is a crucial step in helping your child.