Most children are bullied at least once – and for some, it can be a daily torment. Bullying may be common, but it should not be considered a normal part of growing up. It is the use of social or physical power to intimidate, upset, and even injure another person. In other words, it is abuse. Bullying can include leaving a child out of a social group or activity, harassing or picking on them, calling them names or gossiping about them, physically hitting, tripping or pushing them around, or saying nasty things to or about them online or in text messages.
Children and youth who are bullied feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. If the bullying goes on for a long time, they may suffer such a loss of confidence and self-esteem that every part of their life is affected. They may avoid school and other activities where they may be bullied, so they fall behind and become socially isolated. Some kids develop serious mental health issues like depression because of bullying. Some may even be driven to commit suicide.
Things to Watch For
It’s not always easy to tell that a person is being bullied and many children and teens do not want to tell anyone. They may feel embarrassed. They may be afraid of backlash from the bully or ridicule from their peers. There are, however, a number of warning signs, such as:
• not wanting to go to school and avoiding social events,
• headaches, stomach aches, loss of appetite and/or trouble sleeping,
• less confidence in their abilities and lower self esteem,
• irritability or being more quiet and withdrawn than usual,
• possessions go missing or get broken, or clothing is dirty or torn after school,
• unexplained cuts and bruises,
• being upset after spending time online.
What To Do
If you think someone you know is being bullied, ask them about it. Urge them to talk to a teacher, guidance counsellor or principal – and offer to go with them to make it a bit easier for them. Never stand by and watch someone being bullied. Stand up to the bully, and make sure to report the incident to the adults in charge. Never keep bullying a secret – this is what gives bullies their power!
If you are worried that your child is being bullied, let them know what you’ve noticed and ask them if they’re being bullied. Let them know that you will help them as much as you can, but that you must also talk to the other adults who can help – such as the school administration, teachers and coaches.
Schools and community organizations are responsible for creating safe, welcoming and violence-free environments. It can take the efforts of many adults working together to make the bullying stop – but it can be done. Everyone has the right to be free from bullying. For more information about preventing and dealing with bullying, review the resources at www.bullyingcanada.ca and www.prevnet.ca
Check out this Ted Talk video of Shane Koyczan – he is a brilliant spoken work poet and this video is amazing!