The biggest, most intimidating kid at school, with the strongest fists and the most aggressive personality is no longer the stereotypical school-yard bully. They now come in all shapes and sizes. However, the negative effects of victimization from a bully are still the same – with kids falling into depression, social withdrawal, physical injury, addiction, self-harm and yes even suicide.
Signs to watch out for:
- Unexplained injuries – Look for bruises, scratches or cuts – one-tenth of bullied students admit to being spit on, pushed, shoved, or tripped by another student.
- Missing or destroyed personal items – Your child is returning home from school or a friends house with lost or vandalized electronic gadgets, toys, jewelry, or money.
- Changes in appetite – Your son or daughter is hungry when arriving home without an explanation, or loses their appetite out of the blue.
- Frequent sick days – The U.S. Department of Justice and Education found in a 2011 ‘Indicators of School Crime and Safety’ survey that 5 percent of 12-18 year-old children and teens admitted to missing school due to intimidation by another student.
- Drop in grades – There’s more than meets the eye when a student suddenly and without explanation, has a sudden drop in grades or loses interest in school, sports/hobbies, and social groups that they were once excited about.
- Isolation – If your typically outgoing son or daughter seems suddenly withdrawn from a close group of friends or loses interest in personal relationship(s).
- Tendency to self-harm – Victims of bullying have a propensity to self harm due to a feeling of worthlessness – i.e., cutting arms and/or legs, pulling out their hair, and even attempting suicide.
- Avoidance – If your child is skipping classes, missing the bus on purpose and asking for a ride to school, walking in a different route to and from school, or asking to change schools altogether, there is an issue. If they refuse to talk about it to you, that’s another red flag.
Don’t overlook the possibility that your son or daughter is a victim of bullying. Listen to your child and ask questions. Talk to the school counselor. Speak to his or her friends to see if anything is wrong.
You might be surprised what they say. Your child is your responsibility and loving them is not enough. You need to protect them!