Even the thought your child is being bullied at school can feel devastating as a parent. We want our children to go to school and feel safe and be able to thrive in a supportive, happy environment.
Unfortunately, that’s all-too-often, not what our kids experience at school.
As a parent, while you can’t control everything in your child’s life, there are things you can do as far as bullying. You can recognize the signs of bullying, and if you believe it’s happening to your child, you can take steps with your child’s teacher and the school to prevent it.
For example, there was a recent study that looked at 1,440 bullying incidents at schools. Researchers then selected 106 sets of caregivers and children to respond to five sets of situations involving bullying, indicating how they would respond if they were to see these situations.
The results showed more involvement of parents and other caregivers when schools are engaging in anti-bullying efforts is critical.
As was mentioned, the first step to getting involved is being able to recognize the signs of bullying in your child, if it’s not something he or she is speaking to you about directly.
The following are key red flags that could indicate bullying is occurring in your child’s life.
Behavioral and Emotional Signs of Bullying
You may have an indication something is wrong with your child, or something is going on, but you don’t know what it is.
Often when children and teens are the victims of bullying, they will show behavioral and emotional signs first.
This can include changes in their sleeping and eating patterns, as well as rapid mood swings.
Sometimes children who are being bullied will start saying they feel unwell often, particularly in the morning before school. They may start indicating physical symptoms that they hope will help them stay out of school.
Other behavioral and emotional signs that could indicate bullying is occurring include:
- Frequent angry outbursts or crying
- Becoming withdrawn
- Increasing aggression
- Secrecy or a refusal to talk about what’s going on
- Starts to treat siblings poorly
- Steals or loses money
A child who is being bullied may try to find any excuse not to go to school, and they may be afraid to walk to school on their own or ride the bus.
Physical Signs of Bullying
Not all bullying is physical, but if it is, this can lead to specific red flags as well.
For example, unexplained injuries such as bruises or scratches can indicate bullying. If your child is coming home with belongings or clothes that are damaged or missing, this is another potential sign of bullying.
Declining School Performance
If your child’s grades and school performance start to decline, and you can’t figure out why you might have to consider the potential of bullying.
When a child is being bullied, it can cause anxiety and may impact their ability to concentrate on schoolwork.
Depression and other emotional impacts of bullying, as well as possible insomnia or sleep disturbances, may play a role in declines in performance too.
With teens, skipping school may indicate they are being bullied.
If your child was once involved in activities or outgoing and that’s started to shift, you may question why.
Sometimes children who are being bullied will try to isolate themselves, and they may lose interest in play dates or sports.
Children who start to spend a lot of time on their computer or playing video games can also be struggling with bullying and using these as a way to escape from reality and avoid social interactions.
There are a few things to know.
First, these signs don’t mean your child is being bullied—they can be related to other problems as well, but if you notice them, they are worth looking into.
There are also different forms of bullying that parents need to be aware of.
Along with physical and verbal bullying, there’s also sexual and racial bullying and cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying, in some cases, can be especially difficult for children and teens because they feel like they can’t ever escape it or find a safe haven away from it.
If you notice warning signs as a parent, take action. Try to speak with your child, and if you can’t learn more that way, arrange to meet with your child’s teacher. They may have a better idea of what they see happening, and from there, you can work together on possible solutions.
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