Adolescent years are full of changes and growth. From wearing deodorant and dealing with acne for the first time to maneuvering the challenges of peer pressure, there are a lot of challenges that school-aged children face, and, unfortunately, there is another challenge that is becoming a larger issue – bullying.
To know whether or not bullying is impacting your child or someone you know, here are some warning signs to look for that are available at stopbullying.gov. A change in eating habits is considered a sign of bullying because a child could skip lunch to avoid a bully and be extra hungry when they get home from school. A sudden loss of friends, a decline in grades, and lost or destroyed articles of clothing or jewelry are all examples as well. There are also signs to be aware of when determining if a child you know is bullying others. For instance, increasingly aggressive behavior and unexplained extra money or new belongings could be signs that the child is bullying other children. A more complete list of signs for bullying children and children being bullied can be found here.
If any of these signs seem familiar, talk to the child and ask questions. Help them to understand what bullying is and that it is not okay. It is important to teach kids who are being bullied how to stand up for themselves in the right way. Also, reach out to school officials about the problem to make sure someone is there to look out for your child and make sure they are safe. For a child who is bullying others, let them know that their behavior is unacceptable. Encourage extracurricular activities that they enjoy and open the lines of communication with your child. Punishment for their behavior will be needed, but providing outlets that will distract them from returning to past behaviors could help.
Bullying is linked to mental health issues, substance abuse, and even suicide in severe cases, so making children aware of what bullying is and how to combat it is serious and necessary. Keep the lines of communication open and let the kids in your life know that you are available to listen to them and that you care about them, their safety, and their happiness.