Bullying is a remarkable public health concern that can lead to low self-esteem, mental health problems, and even suicide in children and young people. It has no definite form and can happen anywhere, whether at school, at home, or online.
Let’s talk about the impact of bullying, what you can do to help them, and where to find support.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019, one in every five students reported is being bullied. Bullying is defined as an unpleasant behavior that intentionally and repeatedly hurts someone and may involve:
- Physical types of bullying, such as pushing, hitting, slapping, kicking
- Malicious teasing
- Obscene gesturing
- Exclusion (ignoring or isolating someone)
- Sending threatening or abusive messages via text or social media
- Shaming someone online
- Setting up hate sites/groups about someone online
Bullying can be in-person or online (cyberbullying). However, no type of bullying behavior should be tolerated as It can have tragic consequences when not dealt with effectively.
Signs of Bullying?
Signs of bullying aren’t always obvious, but you may notice the following indications:
- Physical injuries, such as unexplained bruises
- Personal belongings getting lost or damaged
- Not wanting to go to school, faking illness, or skipping school
- Issues at school, such as declining grades
- Mood changes, such as becoming withdrawn, losing confidence, becoming more anxious or distressed
- Feelings helpless or lower self-esteem
- Sudden loss of friends/avoids social situations
- Eating/sleeping problems
- Self-destructive behaviors, such as self-harm, running away from home, talk of suicide
- Asking for or stealing money
- Bullying others
- An increase or decrease in their device use
- Hiding their screen or device in the presence of other people
How You Can Help
Dealing with bullying behavior isn’t always straightforward, but if your child is affected by bullying, consider trying the followings:
- Talking about bullying can be extremely difficult for children. They may feel embarrassed, scared, or ashamed and worry about what will happen if they tell anyone. So, approach the subject with care and if your child opens up to you about bullying, listen carefully to them and provide support and affirmation before taking action, and reassure them that the bullying isn’t their fault.
- If bullying behavior is taking place at school, you or your child should inform their teacher and other relevant members of staff. Every school has an official bullying prevention policy to deal with incidents of bullying appropriately.
- Work together with your child to develop constructive ways to deal with bullying, such as role-playing exercises to help them be more assertive or calm.
- Try to resolve the situation at the earliest possible by discussing it with their school or relevant organizations. Your child may need to avoid unsafe places, but any changes to routine should be minimized.
- Try to keep them involved with extracurricular activities, such as joining a club or playing sport, and improve their confidence.
- If they are affected by cyberbullying, you should make a record/photo of it and report it to the social media platform. Also, make sure your child knows how to block anyone posting abusive things online.
Bullying should never be ignored. When adults take quick and consistent action to deal appropriately with bullying, it sends the message that it’s not acceptable and can help prevent bullying behavior in the future.
Where to Go for Support
Ensuring children or young people receive the necessary support can help to keep them safe and prevent worse situations.
Children who are bullied are at a much higher risk of developing a mental health condition, such as depression which can lead to symptoms such as sadness, isolation, and poor performance at school.
If you think your child may have depression, you should seek immediate support from your child’s pediatrician, psychologist, or pediatric mental health service for advice. There are numerous treatments available, such as talk therapy, which can be effective in helping children discuss their thoughts and feelings and develop strategies to deal with bullying.
It’s not always possible to prevent bullying, but here are some steps to help your child deal with bullying.
- Teaching kids about respect and appropriate behavior is important from a very young age, before they start school, and on an ongoing basis. Teach children to stop and think before saying or doing something that could hurt someone.
- Help your child understand what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely.
- Know your child’s friends, ask about school, and recognize and understand their concerns.
- Ensure your child knows who they can go to for support if bullied.
Comprehensive Pediatric Care in Purchase, NY
If you are worried about your child and feel they need support, consult with the pediatric team at Westchester Park Pediatrics. We provide a comprehensive range of services for patients aged from birth to 15. We also partner with our practice, BridgeSpan Medicine, to care for patients aged 15-21.
Our medical team offers expertise in various fields, including primary care and sick visits, mental health and developmental disorders, vision and hearing, and routine exams and immunizations.