What does it mean when your child is avoiding school? Sure, kids can be lazy but an underlying problem may exist and can at times be deeper than expected. When a child is discouraged about going to school or there are signs of struggle in academic performance and social behavior, it is important to investigate the reasons causing this. Could this be a sign of bullying? Read to learn more.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is a behavior that includes a whole range of actions that cause physical or emotional pain for a child. Bullying takes place when an individual or a group of people with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond. This behavior negatively affects a child’s schooling, social life, and emotional well-being. Adults may have a tendency to ignore bullying and write it off as a normal part of life that all kids go through.
How prevalent is bullying?
Bullying is a social epidemic and according to numerous reports across the world, it has been stated that bullying occurs on a daily or weekly basis in almost every school. It occurs mostly among students aged 12 to 18. Unfortunately, bullying may go unnoticed by the parents or school staff. Many bullied children do not tell their parents or teachers about it out of fear of shame or retribution. Children may also fear they won’t be taken seriously if they report being bullied. It is important that parents, teachers, and other adults constantly look for bullying behaviors.
To Identify bullying, it is best to know the types of bullying that exist, and which types happen more frequently:
There are at least 5 types of bullying:
1) Physical bullying
hitting, kicking, pinching, pushing, or attacking others.
2) Verbal bullying
using words to harm others, like name-calling, insults, or threating
3) Relational bullying
focuses on excluding someone from a peer group, usually through verbal threats, spreading rumors, or harassing someone based on their race, sex, religion, gender or a disability
4) Bullying can also involve assault on a property
when the victim has his or her personal property taken or damaged
occurs online and is mostly verbal. This includes messages, public statements, and behavior online intended to cause distress or harm.
The most commonly reported type of bullying is verbal bullying, followed by relational bullying, physical bullying, and cyberbullying.
What are the warning signs?
|Unexplained cuts or bruises|
|Social anxiety or low self-esteem|
|Poor social engagement or isolation|
|Damaged or missing clothing, books, school supplies, or other belongings|
|Loss of appetite|
|Sudden poor performance or loss of interest in school work|
|Asking to stay home or pretending to be sick to avoid school|
|Feeling moody or depressed|
|Any unexplained change in behavior|
What are the effects of bullying?
|Stress and anxiety that may lead to problems in the heart and digestion|
|Speech problems, like stuttering|
|Learning problems that did not exist prior schooling|
|Higher risk of illness|
|Psychosomatic symptoms (stomachaches, headaches, muscle aches, other physical complaints with no known medical cause)|
|A decrease in academic achievement and school participation|
What you can do to help your bullied child:
Whether your child confided in you or you found out from someone else, make sure your child feels comfortable and safe when speaking to you. A child may keep it a secret out of embarrassment, shame, or fear of the reaction of one’s parents. Reassure your child, make them realize that they are heard, and the issue can be resolved. Remind them of their qualities and what makes them special. Listen calmly and offer comfort and support and praise them for doing the right thing by talking about it. Remind your child that he or she isn’t alone. Emphasize that it’s the bully’s fault, not your child’s. Let your child know that you will figure out what to do about it together. If needed, never hesitate to consult a pediatrician or a therapist.
Bullying is a relationship problem that requires relationship-based solutions. Thus, bullying can be solved in the environment in which it occurs, which is at school in most cases. As a parent, it is important to communicate openly with the school. By checking on your child’s performance regularly, as well as knowing your child’s friends, you may notice if there are any indications of bullying.
Bullying may be very destructive for the child and is an issue which needs openly discussed in our homes and schools. As we raise more awareness on the issue and take the necessary steps as parents, teachers, and adults altogether, we ensure that our children are raised in a healthy and functioning society.