15 Signs Your Child Is A Victim of Bullying
Bullying rates in Canada are two-thirds higher than other Western countries1. In over ninety percent of these situations, bullying could have been put to an end by an innocent bystander2. In today’s technology and connected environment, teenagers are more likely to pull out their cellphones than attempt to assist a fellow student that is being subject to bullying behavior. Parents need to stay educated and help guide their children on appropriate ways to deal with these difficult situations.
Bullying can occur in many forms and situations. Cyber bulling takes place over the internet and often experienced by the child while in their own home. While cyber bullying is the new trend, physical and verbal bullying are just as common3.What parents should acknowledge is that children will often not vocalize to their family that they are being victimized.
During the “Empowered Me” Stix and Stones workshops, my students and l dedicate much of our discussion time on the topic. It is a safe environment which allows students to be open and let out the hurt. There is clearly a high level of anxiety and emotional pain. When asked why they don’t discuss this victimisation with somebody they trust or their caretakers, the response from most of them has been “The stuff my parents tell me to try won’t work” or “ I am too embarrassed to tell anyone” It’s so heartbreaking to listen to those responses and how the students keep this pain close to their chest.
Bullying can cause serious harm to a child’s self-esteem, and will often lead to depression and anxiety. Victims are more likely to commit suicide or participate in criminal activity as an adult4.
The WITS (Walk Away, Ignore, Tell Somebody, Seek Help) program has had a positive impact in bringing together families, schools, communities to create conversations that help with children with bullying and peer victimization.
If parents know the signs of bullying and actively look for these, they can intervene and help their children minimize or put an end to the harassment before it’s too late. There is helpful information available from many sources5.
Here is one of the more comprehensive list of signs:
- A child’s refusal to talk about their day at school or a consistent expression of severe hate towards attending school.
- Sudden mood changes, such as being withdrawn, angry, sad, or anxious.
- Unexplained damage to or missing school supplies, books, toys, electronic devices, or clothes.
- Comments about feeling lonely or having few friends.
- Frequent visits to the nurse’s office with complaints of a headache or stomachache.
- Sudden drop in grades and interest in afterschool activities.
- Problems sleeping, nightmares, or bed wetting.
- Unexplained marks, cuts, scratches, or bruises on your child’s body.
- Sudden change in appetite, either an increase or decrease. Binge eating after school may be a sign that their lunch or lunch money is being taken. A decrease in appetite may be a sign of depression.
- Your Child frequently creates excuses to stay home from school.
- A sudden change in group of friends or loss of friends.
- Your Child might get into trouble more often and start acting out in class.
- He or she avoids using the bathroom at school, and waits until they’re home. Bathrooms are often left unattended, and bullies will use this as an opportunity to harass classmates, knowing there’s no adult supervision.
- Signs of low self-esteem or comments which reflect a feeling of helplessness.
- Your child demonstrates fear of walking to school or taking the bus, and demands that you be there at dismissal time.
If your child is a victim of bullying, do not let them push it aside. Speak to a school administrator and seek help immediately.