Monica was a smart child with high reading and math skills, but a bit of a loner. She wasn’t good in sports because of an undiagnosed asthmatic condition and therefore quickly became unpopular among her peers. Soon girls and even boys taunted and teased her about being fat and ugly. Despite her attempts at telling her mom about being “teased.” Monica’s mom told her “Kids are cruel,” and did nothing. Monica gave up talking to her mom, and her grades began to suffer. Soon, she lagged in the morning, often missing the school bus. She got in trouble with her parents for that, but she acted as though she didn’t care.
Being a Bullied Child: A Definition
While the name has been changed, Monica and her situation was all too real. Bullies abound in both school age girls and boys, and both boys and girls are victims. According to Stopbullying.gov, Quite often it is to harm the bullied child.
Recognizing a Bullied Child
Bullying can take several forms, including:
- Physical Bullying — includes hitting/kicking, tripping, beating up, spitting on, and making rude gestures at the bullied child. Bullies will steal or break property that the bullied child owns.
- Verbal Bullying — includes “teasing,” insulting, calling the child rude names, threatening to injure the child, taunting the child and making sexual comments. While the child isn’t physically injured, the emotional impact can be substantial.
- Social Bullying — includes embarrassing the child, not including the child in the group, ostracizing the child, and telling the child’s friends to not be her friend anymore.
- Bullying can be in person or through the Internet.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, one in four teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and teachers only intervene in about 4 percent of bullying situations. More than two-thirds of students believe that schools aren’t doing enough to curb bullying and respond poorly to bullying situations. This is particularly troublesome when according to the Business Insider, nearly three-quarters of all school shooting are the result of bullying.
Recognizing a Bullied Child
Often, a Bullied Child won’t ask for help from adults. The reasons are varied but include:
- They’re embarrassed of being a victim
- They’re afraid of what the adult will think of them
- They think the adult won’t understand or won’t care
- They’re afraid that adult intervention will make the matter worse
- They’re afraid of being considered a snitch or a tattletale
A Bullied Child often shows outward signs. A happy or outgoing child becomes remote and sullen. They may not have many friends, or may have no friends at all. They may try to avoid going to school. Their grades may drop. They may be injured or bruised.
Children who suffer from bullying often have low self esteem. They may have nightmares or trouble sleeping, they may suffer from eating disorders, and may act depressed. They may think or talk about suicide, running away from home, or may intentionally hurt themselves.
What You Can Do About a Bullied Child
Parents need to watch for warning signs of bullying. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, having an open and honest discussion about bullying will help the child. Don’t marginalize or trivialize the bullying — it will make matters worse. Instead, find out what has been done to try to stop the problem, if anything, and find out what the child wants to happen to end the bullying. Teaching your child to be more assertive and tell the bully to go away may surprise the bully enough to leave the child alone. Have your child practice what he or she should say when confronted by a bully.
Don’t teach your child to hit the bully or use physical force. Your child could get in trouble with the school or even expelled if he or she uses force against the bully. Instead, contact the school and find out what is in place to stop bullying and inform the school of the problem. Encourage your child to walk with friends; bullies are less likely to challenge a group of children.