Recognizing Bullying

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Going back to school shouldn’t mean going back to being bullied. Most parents are aware of the potential dangers of bullying, and some of the ways in which it can damage a child emotionally. However, children are not always willing to openly discuss being teased or bullied with their parents. They may feel embarrassed, or they may want to take on the challenges by themselves, feeling like parent intervention would show some kind of weakness on their part. There are many other reasons why a child may not come forward about bullying, most of which are related to fear. So how can parents help their children if they do not even being told what is going on? There are signs that you can look for that may indicate that your child is being bullied.

Often, children who are being bullied will seem more fearful than they used to. They may show an increase in moodiness or start to seem more sad and withdrawn than usual. They may also show a resistance to going to school, or even social events where peers might be present. Grades may lower as well. If you notice that your child seems more anxious about school, this could be a red flag. Years ago, it was more likely that a child would be bullied while physically in the school, but could feel somewhat safer at home. Now, with advancements in technology, bullying can happen at any time over the internet, particularly through social media platforms. For this reason, it can sometimes be harder to recognize what is going on. Your child may not only seem anxious about heading to school, but could be anxious all the time, as the internet is everywhere. For this reason, it is important to take into account your child’s use of the internet and social media when trying to determine if bullying may be an issue.

If any of the aforementioned signs are present, it may be time to approach your child and have a conversation about bullying and ways in which it may be properly addressed. This can be a tricky conversation to have, depending on your child’s temperament and level of sensitivity.  Please feel free to reach out to others if you fear your child may be being bullied, either at school or over the internet, and are not sure how to handle the situation. It can be a very scary thing to work through, and you do not need to do it alone. Talk to other parents about what has worked for them, and what has not. There are also plenty of helpful tools and articles online, or you can speak with a counselor yourself, to discuss healthy strategies for intervention.

By: Allison Fiete, LMHC