October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and there are lots of signs that show if your child is a victim of bullying.
Bullying, also known as peer abuse, occurs when people or a person intentionally cause mental, physical, or emotional harm to another. It can come in the form of threats, fights, or simple teasing. It’s can also be done online (cyber bullying) or the old school, traditional method: right on the playground or in your child’s classroom.
According to the National Education Association, almost 160,000 kids skip school every day, and about 13 million each year because they’re afraid of being bullied. Many parents may feel helpless when it comes to helping their child who is being bullied, or even trying to recognize if it’s happening in the first place. After all, many children are afraid to speak up. But, there’s a few signs and patterns that parents can look out for and many ways to prevent it.
How to Tell if Your Child Is Being Bullied
- If your child comes home from school with bruises and marks, but will not say how they got them or provide a realistic story
- Lunch money, toys, school supplies, etc. are missing without a valid explanation
- Upset and in a bad mood when coming home from school every day
- Eating habits change
- Have trouble sleeping and frequently wake up from nightmares
- Will only use the bathroom at home and refuse to go at school
- Grades begin to slip because they have trouble focusing in class
- Start to bully their younger or more vulnerable classmates to feel some sense of power
- Begin to suffer from insecurities, feeling like they’re not good enough and/or consistently blaming themselves for things and incidents
- Complains from physical pains like headaches or stomachaches
What Parents Can Do When Their Child Is Being Bullied
- Be supportive of your child. Don’t place them at the center of the blame and assume they did something to provoke the bullying. Recognize it took a lot for them to come to you and let them know they did the right thing by coming to you with their problem.
- Try to get as much detail about the incident(s) as possible: who, what, where, when, how, etc. Find out who saw it happen.
- Whatever you do, don’t encourage your child to execute the “tit for tat” method. Physical retaliation will only make matters worse and your child could end up being the one in trouble with the school and authorities.
- Go to your child’s teacher and school. Use them as a mediator and let them contact the bully’s parents instead of doing so yourself. This will keep the situation from escalating any more than necessary.
- Educate your child on the tactics of bullying so he/she can avoid it. Encourage them to make other nice friends in their class. Also, educate yourself and find out why they’re a victim of bullying and seek a guidance counselor’s help to see if they suffer from any lack of social skills.
A child being bullied can be a heartbreaking situation. No one wants to see their child as a victim of being made fun of. Let your child know it’s not their fault and empathize with them as much as possible.