What you need to know:
- Any form of bullying is unacceptable and can lead to lasting effects such as mental health issues, physical injuries, and even suicide.
If you have a teenage son or daughter, then bullying is something that might be on your mind. Bullying can occur anywhere - in the schoolyard, at home with siblings, and online via social media. Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell when your child is being bullied - sometimes, they are too embarrassed to say anything about it.
Bullying among adolescents has been a known problem for decades, but there's still much that parents do not know. For example, bullying does not always involve physical violence. Emotional abuse is just as harmful and sometimes even more so. The most important thing a parent or caregiver can do for their child who may be bullied is to listen without judging what they say.
Types of bullying
There are diverse types of bullying:
- Social exclusion
- Sexual harassment
Any form of bullying is unacceptable and can lead to lasting effects such as mental health issues, physical injuries, and even suicide. If you think your teen is being bullied, here are the five common signs:
1) Change in friendships
If your teenager has changed friends, become withdrawn, or started making excuses to get out of social gatherings, it may be because they are being bullied. Your teenager may be feeling intimidated by the other child, and the bullying may be escalating into a situation where they are isolated from their usual social circle. Suppose your teenager is refusing invitations to go out with old friends or has stopped participating in hobbies and extracurricular activities that used to bring them happiness. In that case, this could be the result of being bullied.
2) Hates school and performs poorly in class
If your child is not doing well in school and constantly complaining about it, then bullying may be the issue. However, decreased performance can also indicate underlying mental health or other emotional concerns that need to be addressed.
Raise suspicions if you notice your teenager has missed many days from school and doesn't want to go back anymore or complains about being sick.
If your teenage child wants to stop attending school altogether, get them the help they need and not try to keep them in a situation where their safety will be at risk.
3) Emotional instability
Another sign of bullying is a change in mood, which can range from chronic sadness to frequent outbursts. If your teenage son or daughter starts to have unusual symptoms like emotional havoc, but more severe or longer-lasting, bullying may be the cause.
Bullying can lead to physical health problems, mood swings, or changes in sleep and appetite patterns. If you notice your teenage child getting frustrated over small things, it might be the time to talk about what's getting them mad. If your teenager has anxiety attacks and unexplained crying episodes, this may be the result of bullying.
Bullying can also lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, and even substance abuse problems.
4) Physical marks
Sometimes, bullies will leave physical marks on a victim, indicating that they have targeted them specifically. These could include body bruises, torn clothes, cuts, and missing items, which could be a sign of bullying. However, when asked about the marks, the teen either hesitates or refuses to explain at all.
If your teenage son or daughter has any physical marks that they say are from an accident, but you are not convinced, then it is time to talk about what might be going on.
5) Complains of frequent illnesses
If your teenager is complaining about frequent stomachaches, headaches, and other physical ailments that cannot be explained, it could be that they are being bullied. Research shows that teens who are bullied have a higher possibility of such infections. It is also easy to fake sickness when they do not want to go to school or where the bully may be present.
In conclusion, when teens experience violence and bullying at school, they are more likely to engage in violence at other times of their life. In addition, bullying is a crime, so if physical marks are left on the teen by a bully, it should be reported right away.
The person being bullied has the choice to report the bullying and can talk with an adult about these concerns anonymously.
As a parent, beware of cyberbullying that has been on the rise recently. Talk to your teen beforehand about how to deal with cyberbullying. Never ignore any of these red flags, as early intervention is vital for reducing the potential for long-term harm.