Bullying involves a power imbalance where either through physical, verbal, or emotional manipulation, one child establishes power over another child. Bullying can even come in the form of texting and social media. It can be subtle or overt, but it’s harmful in any form.
Unfortunately, bullying is common. According to the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, close to half of all children will experience school bullying at some point, and at least 10 percent of children are bullied regularly.
Bullying can have lasting effects into adulthood, causing self-esteem issues and depression and negatively impacting the development of normal relationships. In some severe cases, children can become violent or have self-harming thoughts or gestures.
Signs your child may be being bullied:
- Avoidance of school or social situations
- Decline in overall school performance
- Decreased self-esteem
- Fear associated with school
- Unexplained injuries such as bruises, scrapes, or torn clothing
- Frequent stomach aches, headaches, or sleep issues
- Faking illness
If you think your child is being bullied or bullying others, it is important to act immediately. Address the issue directly with your child, and bring it to the attention of your child’s teachers or administration. Encourage kids to speak to a trusted adult who can give support, encouragement, and advice on dealing with bullies.
There are ways to possibly prevent bullying:
- Keep the lines of communication open with your children. Check in with them often. Know their friends. Be aware of social dynamics at play. Make it safe for them to approach you about being bullied.
- Talk about bullying. Make sure they know how to recognize it when it is happening to them or to someone else. Make sure they know who to go to for help.
- Model how to treat others with kindness and respect always.
Encourage them to be themselves. Help them explore their own special interests and hobbies in order to boost self-esteem.
Reviewed by Eva Benmeleh, March 2020
- Close to half of all children will be bullied at some point.
- If your child is starting to avoid school and even fake an illness, they may be bullied.
- Know your child’s friends, and make sure they understand how to recognize bullying.