By: Virginia Matteo
Bullying may take a toll on your child’s mental health, self-esteem, and social life. Extreme cases may end in suicide or a suicide attempt. Bullying has many forms: physical violence, teasing, intimidating, and attacking the victim online. As bullying happens in situations without adult supervision, teachers often fail to spot the warning signs, and as a result, a resolution may be up to the parents.
Signs of bullying vary from person to person, and the signs described here may point to some other issues. Talk to your child if you notice persistent negative changes in his or her behavior or mood.
Physical bullying will leave bruises and scratches on your child. Severe and frequent marks accompanied by mood changes are a serious red flag.
Does your child frequently lose clothes, toys, books, or electrical devices? Does he or she ask for money more often than usual? Bullies frequently target the possessions of their victims. If your child comes home from school hungry, his or her lunch might have been stolen.
Bullied children change their attitude toward school and school activities, getting anxious or inventing excuses not to go to school. They may cling to you to avoid getting on the school bus. Bullying can also worsen your child’s school performance.
A bullied child may experience emotional hardships; he or she may get depressed or anxious or become moody without obvious reasons. Social isolation is another warning sign. A victim of bullying can develop problems with self-esteem and display a disproportionate feeling of guilt.
The stress experienced by bullied children can manifest in physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches. It may cause nightmares, bed wetting, bouts of crying, or eating disorders.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Remember that only your child can confirm or dispel your suspicions. Victims of bullying may be reluctant to open up, so you need to approach the topic tactfully and with care. Ask if he or she gets along with other children at school. If your child is too traumatized to talk, reach out for professional help. Investigate the matter further by talking to your child’s teachers and, if need be, the school’s principal.
Bullying may result in social exclusion and mental health problems. There are many signs, such as changes in mood and behavior, that may show your child is a victim of bullying. Only by talking to your child or investigating the matter at school can you confirm or dispel your suspicions.