You know your child better than you may even know yourself. Their likes, their dislikes, favorite programs, best friends. From the day they’re born you have a front row seat to their lives. You are wonderfully fortunate to be a proud parent. Then one day, it seems like you do not know them. Are they just growing up and becoming more independent, or is it something else?
With every news story of the tragic results of bullying, your heart likely stops and you think first of your child, and then of the hell the parents are enduring. Every bullying episode does not end in tragedy, but such incidents leave emotional scars on a child, ones that undermine his or her confidence and natural maturation of social skills. A harsh reality of today’s youth is that being tormented during school hours doesn’t stop there, but follows them into their homes on their phones and iPads. There is no place they can feel safe.
How well do you know your child? Could they be afraid of how you’ll react and how that reaction will make matters worse? Would your child tell you if they’re being bullied?
Child psychotherapist Karen Goldberg says, “Around half of the children who are bullied don’t end up telling an adult that it’s happening.”
In a child’s mind, the negativity can become a consuming reality and cause them to play sick to miss school or result in inattentiveness to their studies.
Peter J. Goodman, author of We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats cites some common reasons for children to refrain from sharing these daytime nightmares with their parents. When you view these from a child’s perspective the feelings can seem overwhelming:
They may think that they are tattling on another student, and they have been taught not to tattle. It is important that children learn the difference between tattling about unimportant things and telling an adult when bullying is taking place.
Children may fear retaliation if they tell an adult they are being bullied. While the adult may address the issue with the child doing the bullying, there is going to be another time right around the corner when the adult is not around. Children may fear that things could get worse if the issue is addressed.
Some children feel that they will not be believed. They believe that they will tell an adult and the person will not believe them or will suggest that maybe they did something to bring it on.
Many children believe that telling an adult does nothing to help with the bullying. The research tends to support the notion that many adults don’t do anything about the bullying, or they simply brush it off, tell them to toughen up, or say that it is just a part of growing up. If children learn early on that adults don’t help, then they are not likely to report the incidents.
When children are bullied, they may feel ashamed or embarrassed. This alone can keep them from reporting it, because they don’t want people to know that they were being bullied.
How Can You Tell If Your Child Is Being Bullied?
The manifestation can vary from child to child depending on their unique personality, but:
- Are they coming home hungry? Their lunch may be stolen or they are enduring ridicule for how they ear/what they eat/how much they eat.
- Are items like their backpacks/possessions showing signs of damage?
- Do you notice a change in their overall demeanor?
- Are they missing the bus and not coming home at the usual time?
- Do you notice them become visibly upset upon reading a text or going online?
And even more subtle signs of bullying you may not be seeing…
So as attuned as you are to your child, there are significant, yet subtle displays. We know that caring for our children is more complicated in a world increasingly challenging to understand.
Talking to your child and making them aware is one thing, but as parents, we need to take the extra step and watch out for the changes. October is National Bullying Prevention Month – join us in taking a stand against this destructive behavior. To learn more, consider a free trial in our bullying prevention program.