Recently, I shared my story about my children’s experience with a local neighborhood bully. Currently living through that situation has made me wonder just what happens to kids that are bullies or that experienced being bullied.
Through our experience, we have heard a lot of “oh let kids be kids”, and n”ot my child, your child started it first”. Rather than point fingers, it’s our jobs as parents to know the risk factors of bullying, and how to even identify the behaviors in our own children.
HOW CHILDREN ARE AFFECTED BY BULLYING
Recently, I visited the Stopbullying.gov website to see just what the statistics say. I can see for myself the fear and anxiety that comes with being bullied. What I wasn’t prepared for was all of the things that kids can suffer from if bullying isn’t stopped. Here’s a list according to StopBullying.gov of what kids that experience bullying can suffer from.
- Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
- Health complaints
- Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
There are a lot of campaigns about stopping bullying from the victim’s perspective, but I was really surprised to find out that even bullies have risk factors as well. So, in essence, a parent who is in denial that their child is a bully is actually doing their own child a huge disservice. Here is what StopBullying.gov had to share about risk factors for children that bully.
- Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
- Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
- Engage in early sexual activity
- Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
- Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults
IS YOUR CHILD LIKELY TO BULLY OTHERS?
There is so much great information out there about how to prevent your child from being bullied, but what if you fear your child is the bully? There are many signs you can look for to see if your child is (or is at risk) for bullying other children. These signs include:
- Are aggressive or easily frustrated
- Have less parental involvement or having issues at home
- Think badly of others
- Have difficulty following rules
- View violence in a positive way
- Have friends who bully others
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO STOP THE BULLYING CYCLE!
Bullying has come to dramatic heights over the last few decades. It’s time that parents join forces together and adopt our own zero tolerance policy! Children deserve to play in their own neighborhoods and attend school without fear of being harrassed.
In addition, children that bully need the guidance of a trusted adult to let them know there are other ways to handle their emotions. I don’t think anyone would rather stick their head in the mud knowing their child is at higher risk for substance abuse because of their bullying ways. It’s time that we take an honest look at our kids, and HELP them!
WAYS TO PREVENT BULLYING AND ITS EFFECTS
Educate your children: Role play with your kids what bullying looks like. Sometimes bullying can be really subtle, so it’s important to go over ways it may not be direct.
Build your child self-esteem: Do exercises that help build your child’s self esteem, and emphasize that EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect.
Develop a family action plan: Talk to your kids about what they should do if they feel bullied (talk to a teacher, walk away, ignore them).
Get your child help: Whether your child is being bullied or the bully, be honest with yourself as a parent. Acknowledge when your child is showing signs of needing additional assistance. These signs could include withdrawal from friends and family, slipping grades, violent outburst, overreactions , or even domineering behavior with siblings.
Being active and aware parents we can help our children stay away from unhealthy bullying behaviors. We owe it to our children to set a good example and show them that we care! It’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure bullying is not tolerated. That is the only way our kids will be free from it’s vicious cycle.
None of the suggestions in this post is meant to replace sound medical advice. These are merely my opinions, and information collected from Stopbullying.org.