For many children, the school years are exciting, and filled with friends and activities. For some children though, those years are a dark territory of loneliness, awkwardness and sadness. Kids that are the victims of a bully are faced with a huge amount of pressure and stress which can make the school years pure torture.
School bullying is recognized as a mental health problem of childhood by medical and educational authorities, according to Mayo Clinic psychologists. It is estimated that over 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Source: National Education Association.
Did you know that:
1 in 7 Students in Grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.
56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school.
71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.
1 out of 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.
Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents.
Children in lower grades (2nd – 5th) reported being in twice as many fights as those in the higher grades. However, there is a lower rate of serious violent crimes in the elementary level than in the middle or high schools.
Some people believe that bullying is just a fact of life that kids have to deal with. The problem is that bullying is often quite severe and could even lead to serious bodily harm, death and suicide in some cases. Even if the situation doesn’t get to that point, it can still have an emotional toll on your child.
Here are some ways to help your child if they are being bullied.
The first step to dealing with your child being bullied is to know it’s happening. Many children don’t open up and share what’s going on so in many cases you have to be perceptive. Making sure you’re your child is comfortable with talking to you about sensitive topics is key.
In many cases the first sign of bullying is that the child will begin to invent ways to get out of school or other social situations. Children that are being bullied during school often have trouble sleeping and concentrating. They can become depressed, irritable, or even physically ill. The best method is to know your child’s regular routine and look for any changes.
While it is good to encourage your child to ignore a bully, ignoring alone usually doesn’t make the bully stop their harassing behavior. The one thing that is proven to stop a bully is adult intervention and awareness. Encourage your child tell an adult and then start ignoring the bullying – this usually works to stop the behavior.
Schools are responsible for keeping children safe; that includes protecting them from each other. While some schools at times don’t seem so concerned if a student is being teased or harassed, they should take action if your child is being verbally, physically or sexually attacked or threatened. Be sure to inform them of any incidences that may occur and follow up to see that action is being taken. No issue is too small! If you’ve contacted the school repeatedly, go to the PTA, the school board or even the police. Find some way to make them listen and make changes.
The most important step to take when your child is being bullied is to restore their self confidence. Let them know that there’s nothing wrong with them, no matter what other people say. Feeling loved and accepted is the first step to recovery.
Putting a stop to bullying is everyone’s responsibility. By talking about bullying and teaching all students to not tolerate a bully’s behavior, we can keep our children safe and our schools a haven of learning instead of a place of fear.