Childhood and adolescence are periods in which students are especially susceptible to bullying, whether that be at home, at school, or in their neighborhood. Unfortunately, there are little to no instances in which children can be entirely safe from bullying. Especially with the inception of the internet and social media, bullying can take on many different forms.
As a parent, it is incredibly important to be able to notice the signs that your child is being bullied and intervene quickly. Although there are many different shapes that bullying can take on, the signs are relatively easy to notice. In this blog, we will touch on some of the most clear-cut signs that bullying is taking place in your child’s life.
Signs of Technological Bullying
- Sudden changes in behavior: If your child becomes withdrawn, anxious, or exhibits sudden mood swings, it could be a sign of bullying. Cyberbullying, which involves harassment, threats, or humiliation through digital platforms like social media, texting, or online gaming, can lead to these emotional changes.
- Unusual secrecy about online activities: Children who are being bullied online may become overly secretive about their online interactions. They may hide their screens or quickly switch applications when adults approach, indicating that they are trying to conceal something.
- Avoidance of technology: Paradoxically, some children who are being bullied online may start avoiding technology altogether. They might be afraid of encountering the bully or experiencing further harm. If your child suddenly loses interest in activities they once enjoyed online, it could be a red flag.
- Reluctance to attend school or social events: Victims of cyberbullying often develop a fear of facing their bullies in person. They may express a strong reluctance to attend school, parties, or other social gatherings where they might encounter individuals who are bullying them online.
- Changes in usual patterns: Bullying, whether online or offline, can be incredibly distressing for children. If your child has trouble sleeping or displays changes in appetite, it might be an indication of bullying-related stress.
More Traditional Aspects of Bullying
Even though cyberbullying seems to be the more common form of bullying these days, traditional bullying does still occur. Below are some of the many signs to be on the lookout for.
- Unexplained physical injuries: Physical bullying involves intentional harm, such as hitting, pushing, or tripping. If your child frequently comes home with unexplained bruises or injuries, it could be a sign that they are being physically bullied.
- Loss of personal belongings: Bullying sometimes includes theft or intentional destruction of personal belongings. If your child regularly loses or misplaces items, or if their possessions are damaged without a reasonable explanation, it might be worth investigating further.
- Social isolation: If your child complains of not having any friends or consistently sits alone during lunch or recess, it could be an indication that they are being socially excluded by their peers. Though this might occur without bullying, it is still worth looking into and asking questions about.
- Changes in grades: Any kind of bullying can significantly impact a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well academically. If your child’s grades suddenly drop, or if their teachers report a decline in their performance, it may be a result of the stress caused by bullying.
Why Bullying Happens
Bullying can stem from quite a few different factors, including power imbalances, insecurity, and a general lack of empathy. Some children might bully others to establish dominance or gain a sense of control, especially if this is something they lack in their home life. Others might do it to fit in with a particular social group or due to their own unresolved personal issues. In either case, the bullying is fueled by an inner desire for something different than what they are currently experiencing.
Unfortunately, the prevalence of technology has made bullying easier than ever and more pervasive. Anonymity and the ability to reach a wide audience through social media platforms provide bullies with the perfect opportunity to inflict emotional harm with minimal consequences.
Bullying is never the fault of the victim and very rarely has anything to do with them personally. Even so, understanding the underlying causes can help us address the issue and prepare children if they do experience bullying. Teaching empathy and encouraging quick communication can help us create an environment that discourages bullying behavior and promotes kindness and respect.
How To Best Help Your Child
- Open communication: Maintain an open line of communication with your child, encouraging them to share their feelings and experiences. Let them know that you are there to listen and support them without judgment. Regularly checking in with your child about their online activities can help identify signs of bullying early on.
- Teach your child about online safety: Share knowledge with your child about online safety, including the importance of protecting personal information and being cautious about accepting friend requests or engaging with strangers online. You might also encourage them to report any instances of cyberbullying to you or a trusted adult.
- Empower your child: You can help your child develop resilience and self-confidence by encouraging their strengths and interests. Gently push them to participate in activities that promote social interaction and build a strong support network of friends and mentors who can provide emotional support.
- Take inventory of their technology use: Monitor your child’s online activities, including their social media profiles and the apps they use. Consider using parental control software to restrict access to inappropriate content and keep an eye on their interactions.
- Work directly with schools and community: Stay involved with your child’s school and community by attending parent-teacher meetings, joining parent support groups, and getting to know other parents. Collaborate with the school to implement anti-bullying programs and policies that create a safe and inclusive environment for all students.
- Find a therapist or professional to help: If you think your child is being bullied or notice significant changes in their behavior, reach out for support from professionals like school counselors, therapists, or psychologists. These professionals can offer guidance and interventions to help your child cope with bullying and its effects.
As technology continues to advance, we can expect that bullying will continue to take on different shapes and sizes. With the proper knowledge and preparation, we can quickly step in and take action to protect our children. Knowing the signs to look out for is the first step in intervening and keeping children safe. While bullying is often a result of the bully’s own home life, the detrimental impact that the victims experience can last with them throughout the remainder of their lives. Stopping bullying in its tracks is key to keeping children’s mental and physical health protected.
New Dimensions Can Help!
New Dimensions has outpatient counseling programs for adolescents and adults who are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues. To learn more about our services, including psychological testing, Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), and Interventions for substance abuse, contact us at 800-685-9796 or visit our website at www.nddtreatment.com. To learn more about individual, family, and couples counseling visit www.mhthrive.com.