Bullying and mental abuse are problems that many teenagers and younger children face. In 2011, around 28 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported being bullied during the school year.1 Bullying also takes place in many environments other than school.
Types of Bullying
There are many different ways in which bullying can take place. Many parents assume bullying involves physical attacks on a person. However, it can be much more subtle, and it can even be indirect. Bullies can destroy a person’s self-confidence by spreading rumors about that person. This can be done verbally, in writing, through graffiti or via comments posted online.
While any person can be the target of bullying, those with physical attributes that set them apart are at higher risk. Likewise, people who belong to a minority ethnic group are more likely to become targets.1 Anyone who is perceived to be different from the norm is at higher risk of bullying.
Indications Your Child May Be the Target of Bullies
There may be some signs that your child is being bullied. These include:
- Injuries the child cannot reasonably explain
- Damaged clothing
- Frequent bouts of stomach illness or headaches
- Pretending to be ill to avoid school or social occasions
- Worsening grades at school
- Loss of property like phones, jewelry, books and electronic gadgets
- Sleeping problems, including insomnia and nightmares
- Significant changes in behavior
- Running away from home
- Self-harming or talking about suicide
If you notice these symptoms, talk to your child to see if they are being bullied. It can be difficult to get your child to admit to being bullied. It may help to talk to your child’s friends to see if they can offer explanations for the symptoms you notice.
It is important to understand that many children are reluctant to let others know they are being bullied. Many fear the situation will be worse if they seek help. It is also important to understand that not all children who are being bullied display any outward symptoms.
Dealing with Bullying
Try to start a conversation and get your child to talk about the problems they are experiencing. If the bullying takes place at school or in a social setting such as a club or sports team, talk to someone in administration and make them aware of the problem.
If the bullying takes place in the neighborhood, outside of an academic setting, consider raising the matter with the parents of the child who is doing the bullying, but try to avoid being confrontational. Propose that you both work together to stop the bullying. If a parent is known to be violent, do not approach that person directly. Ask for help to deal with this type of issue.