Bullying can take on many forms; some direct, such as verbal and physical abuse, and some subtle, like excluding an individual from a group or spreading rumors. Victims of bullying often suffer from serious emotional scarring, low self-esteem and in severe cases, depression and sometimes suicide. Children and adolescents aren’t likely to open up to an adult when they are being bullied, which is why it is important for parents to be able to recognize signs of bullying in their children.
One of the newest, most concerning forms of bullying is cyberbullying on social media.
To recognize signs of bullying, it helps to get in the habit of asking your child about their day, and listening to who their friends are and how they are being treated. If their friends change suddenly or your child’s mood varies significantly from one day to the next, try to dig deeper and find out why. Other signs to look for are changes in eating habits, coming home from school with unexplained injuries or damaged or missing belongings, making excuses not to go to school, acting out of character, declining grades, avoiding certain places or playing outside alone, trouble sleeping and self-blame.
If you suspect your child is being bullied, partner with their teacher or a school counselor to find a solution. If possible, involve both children and their parents in the efforts to stop the bullying and encourage reconciliation. In severe cases of bullying, children may feel helpless or not good enough and may talk about suicide, which is why it’s so important as parents to look for signs of bullying and to get involved. Fortunately, more and more efforts toward bullying prevention and intervention have been initiated throughout the country. Here in the community, Cone Health has an exceptional network of behavioral health professionals dedicated to educating and counseling children and families on bullying.
Other great resources for parents to teach their children about bullying can be found on character.org.
Dennis Campbell is the vice president of behavioral health services at Cone Health. He earned his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in nursing degrees from Indiana Wesleyan University. He is a certified coach and a 2014 graduate of Leadership Greensboro.