When a student is being bullied they are most likely mentally distressed and suffering from a range of emotional difficulties. The truth is that most bullying results in lifelong problems which may include many mental and social difficulties. If you as a parent, teacher, or friend suspect or know that a child is being bullied it is your responsibility to intervene and come to his/her aid immediately. Bullying is a serious problem that is more publicly recognized now mostly because of the media attention and attempts to stop bullies than generations past. Learn about Dealing With the Bullied Student!
Some may argue that bullying has always existed, and this may be true however, the fact remains that children, then and now, are being tormented mentally, verbally and physically by bullies who intend them harm and are persistent in their abusive and undeserved mistreatment of others.
Identifying the Bullied Student
It is important to realize that many bullied youth are either too embarrassed or afraid to tell anyone about their situation. This may be due to information they do not want to share (like sexual orientation) or their religious affiliation, cultural background or some fact that they might not want to share with others because they regard it as private. Some students have even been known to hide bullying from adults and others because they are fearful of the backlash or unbelief they might encounter. Children are very concerned with how they are perceived by their peers. As a result, they may just choose to suffer in silence because of their seeming lack of social standing. Overall this is a terribly anxious situation for the student who is experiencing bullying or cyberbullying.
Here are some ways to identify a Bullied Student.
- Sudden mental changes (from extroverted to introverted behavior, anxiety, depression)
- A child who returns home hungry every day (this happens when bullies are taking the students lunch or money)
- Unexplained illness that cannot be documented by fevers or cold symptoms. (the student involves in avoidance behaviors such as wanted to skip school or a community group)
- A change in behavior (a bullied student may begin bullying others at home or school)
- Nightmares or difficulty sleeping
- Unexplained injuries (frequent)
- Decreased self-esteem
- Destructive behavior (self-inflicted injuries and maybe even suicidal talk)
- Lost or destroyed items such as expensive clothing or books
If you recognize any of these listed signs and symptoms in your child or student it is imperative that you act quickly and decisively on his or her behalf. Try to talk to him or her about the situation in private, letting them know that you are there to help him/her. In addition, you should begin to record your suspicions. If you are the parent you should speak with your child’s teacher and if you are the teacher you should speak with the child’s parent about your suspicions.
Dealing With the Bullied Student: After the bullying has been confirmed
- Confront the bully immediately and tell him/her to stop
- Record what you have observed and continue to keep records
- Given the lasting effects of bullying, parents should seriously consider sending their child to therapy
- Teachers who identify a bullied child should recommend therapy to the child’s parents
- Whether the bullying is occurring at home, school or in the community, steps should be taken immediately to disable the situation in which the bully is operating (ask yourself what about this situation is allowing this to happen?)
- Help the child recover a sense of protection and safety
- If the bullying is happening online (cyberbullying) then parents should either discontinue the accounts or allow use of the internet, including text messages, only under close supervision. (This is a recommendation from child psychologists whether or not your child is being bullied).