Someone recently sent me a link to a website called StopBullying.gov. Ironically, this is a subject that has been on my mind a lot lately. Within just the last couple of weeks I have heard of two separate incidents from friends whose kids were being bullied at school in my own relatively small town. I’ve actually been very frustrated by the whole situation because I didn’t know what I could do to help.
So when I came across this list of signs that your child is being bullied or is bullying others, I knew I had to share it. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in stopping the bullying, especially in light of the fact that according to statistics, only about a third of bullying cases is ever reported to an adult.
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Signs a Child is Being Bullied
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
Signs a Child is Bullying Others
- Get into physical or verbal fights
- Have friends who bully others
- Are increasingly aggressive
- Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
- Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
- Blame others for their problems
- Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
- Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity
Helping Kids Understand Bullying
Now that you know what the signs are….now we need to teach our kids. If we help our kids understand what bullying is and how they can stand up to it…hopefully they will be more likely to talk about it when it happens to them or others.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Research tells us that children really do look to parents and caregivers for advice and help on tough decisions. Sometimes spending 15 minutes a day talking can reassure kids that they can talk to their parents if they have a problem. Start conversations about daily life and feelings with open-ended questions such as….”What was one good thing and one bad thing that happened today?”
Encourage Kids to Do What They Love
Help kids take part in activities, interests, and hobbies they like. Kids can volunteer, play sports, sing in a chorus, or join a youth group or school club. These activities give kids a chance to have fun and meet others with the same interests. They can build confidence and friendships that help protect kids from bullying.
Model How to Treat Others with Kindness and Respect
Kids learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show the kids in their lives that there is no place for bullying. Even if it seems like they are not paying attention, kids are watching how adults manage stress and conflict, as well as how they treat their friends, colleagues, and families.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers bullying a form of youth violence and calls “electronic aggression” an emerging public health problem.
It’s up to us to stop it.
How are you or your community, school etc. addressing bullying?