Is Your Child Being Bullied?
By Julie A. Johnson
Bullying is in the news again as a fifteen year old commits suicide because classmates
have tormented her endlessly. Unfortunately, bullying is a growing problem in the United States today, and the problem seems to be getting worse.
Recently we have heard of students being harassed, being burned, and being physically abused by peers. Bullying is a widespread
problem in the United States.On the average school day 25%
of students in the United States are victimized by bullies. Each day, according to the National Association of School
Psychologists, as many as 160,000 children stay home from school because they are afraid of being bullied by classmates. One
child in ten is bullied on a regular basis, and when the abuse happens again and again, it affects school attendance. Bullying
is a significant problem.
What is bullying?
bullying is an activity that has always seemed to be present in our society, authorities sometimes have a difficult time determining
whether bullying has actually occurred. Basically,there are two types of bullying: direct and indirect. Direct bullying involves
physical actions which may include physical violence, taunting or teasing, and threatening the victim. Physical violence may
include kicking, punching, hair pulling, or as described recently in the news -- setting someone on fire.Indirect bullying occurs when the bully attempts to socially isolate the victim. Indirect bullying
happens when the bully verbally and emotionally intimidates the victim. We see verbal bullying happen when there is name calling,
sexist remarks and language, gossiping, racist slurs, unwanted phone calls or text messages, and threats. These communications
may be anonymous, or not.Most
common among girls, emotional intimidation is a much more subtle form of bullying and diminishes a child's self esteem
through isolation and exclusion. Emotional intimidation may include facial expressions and body language, whispering, snickering
and note-writing. This form of bullying is most common during the middle school years.
Effects of Bullying: Sometime devastating and long-lasting, the effects of bullying can scar your child.
Bullying can isolate your child from peers, and in turn, affect your child's sense of security and well being. Bullying
can also affect academic performance.Bullying may affect your child both
mentally and physically. Because bullying increases stress, the victim is affected mentally. The victim may experience physical
problems also due to stress. Increased headaches and stomachaches are not uncommon problems associated with bullying. In extreme
cases, especially among girls, social anxieties may lead to to other problems including anorexia, bulimia, or even excessive
exercising.Bullying takes its toll on the victim, so it's important
to recognize signs that your child may be bullied at school. It is up to you to recognize the signs because usually children
are hesitant about seeking adult intervention because they are afraid of further abuse.Here are some important signs to look for:
Abrupt changes in behavior.
At school: a sudden drop in grades or lack of interest
in school. At school the child may wish to aviod lunch, the playground, or going to the bathroom because these are areas where
abuse usually takes place. The child may try to avoid going to school by faking illness to avoid the bullying. The child may
start asking for rides to school so s/he can avoid waiting at the bus stop or riding the bus.
At home: Your child
may come home with bruises or loses money with no plausible explanation. S/he may experience obvious signs of stress and have
problems with sleeping. After receiving an email or phone, the child may appear frightened, sad, or even angry. A change in
personality, becoming more clingy, or withdrawing from family and friends, could be a sign of bullying. If s/he talks about
changing schools, running away or moving, a parent should take note.If
you suspect bullying may be a problem for your child, don't pressure him or her for information. Remind your child you
are there to listen if there is a problem. Ask about related topics -- classes, friends, activities -- you may discover helpful
information. Investigate further by asking friends, other parents, and school officials. Protect your child and seek help
from authorities if you suspect a problem.
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