The air is full of laughter with children racing over to their perspective schools to see their names listed on the glass window. Tiny fingers are crossed with high hopes that they get placed with the teacher and friends that they had hoped for. While most children feel this is a rite of passage for new clothes and new friends, some children experience extreme anxiety of not having the basic essentials or possibly being placed in the same class with the student who bullied them the previous year.
The negative impact of bullying goes beyond just the students who are bullied, affecting those who see and hear it take place around them. Children who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, lonely, and anxious; have low self-esteem; feel unwell; and think about suicide. The increased usage of social media has allowed children to be bullied when normally they would not. Not only has the bully gotten into the heads of the victim at school, but now they have made them a prisoner in their own home through social media and other internet platforms. When online bullying occurs, most children lack the proper coping skills necessary to handle it.
Children who have insufficient social-interaction skills will be a target for some bullies because their behaviors may irritate the bully. If this is the case, students can reach out to their school counselor or mental-health provider about how to help improve social skills, not only in school but in the community as well.
Bullying, a form of youth violence, has become a significant public health problem that affects thousands of young people each day. In fact, youth violence, which includes a range of acts from bullying and physical fighting to more severe instances such as sexual and physical assault and homicide, is the third leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-old individuals.
A recent assessment completed in Lucas County shows that:
- 52% of our local youth have been bullied at one point throughout the year.
- 29% felt hopeless and depressed for more than two weeks, requiring mental health services.
- 18% considered attempting suicide.
- 8% of youth attempted suicide.
If you believe your child is being bullied, you can look for some of the warning signs that typically indicate a child is being targeted:
- Lost or damaged clothing or belongings.
- Cuts, bruises, scratches, or unexplained injuries.
- Few, if any, friends either at school or in the community that they would like to spend time with. A decrease in normal friendships that differs from the past school year.
- Appears afraid or anxious, out of the ordinary low self-esteem, possible drop in grades.
- Refuses to take the bus to school or begins to walk a different route to school.
- Has lost significant interest in activities that they used to be involved in.
- Seems sad, moody, or depressed when they come home from school. Sleeping more than normal.
- Runs out of lunch money before they would typically.
- Increased nurse visits with complaints of stomachaches, headaches, or sore throats.
- Increase in the amount of detentions or suspensions.
While this list is not exhaustive, it gives you a good place to start if you suspect your child is being bullied. Exhibiting one or more of these signs doesn’t always mean that a child is being bullied, but it opens up the line of communication with the child and ensures them it is safe to talk to you about it.❦