By Dr. Jon McCaine, Clinical Psychologist at Bayless Healthcare
Every day thousands of children wake up afraid to go to school. Bullying is a problem that affects millions of students, and it has everyone worried, not just the kids on the receiving end. Yet because parents, teachers, and other adults don’t always see it, they may not understand its effects.
October is National Bullying Awareness Month and brings another opportunity to shed light on this dark subject.
As bullying becomes more common each year, it is important to take the time to talk to youth about what it means to be a bully and how to respond if they find themselves being bullied.
Recent studies have shown that bullying leaves lasting effects on victims. Students who were repeatedly bullied showed signs of depression, low self-esteem and poor overall health.
Look for warning signs such as injuries, missing or damaged property, and avoidance of certain people or situations. Always keep a clear line of communication with your kids about what is going on day-to-day at school. This can help establish relationships in which your children feel comfortable talking with you.
Talk and listen
Over 70 percent of students have also reported seeing incidents of bullying happen at school.
Characteristics of bullying can begin as early as preschool and elementary school. While in the early years, parents and other adults can play a major role in recognizing and preventing bullying behavior.
From a young age, start talking with your children about bullying. As your children age, start teaching them how they can safely handle bullying situations when and if they arise.
Connect with the school
Many times parents fear intervening but when it comes to bullying and teens, it’s necessary. If you suspect your child is being bullied, listen carefully and ask questions before determining what you should do.
Most schools have anti-bullying measures in place. Your children should not be afraid to speak up to you or a school administrator if they become a victim of bullying.
Every child needs a safe space in order to learn and interact with their peers in a healthy and supportive way. Help kick bullying out of schools by participating in National Bullying Awareness Month and talk to your kids about bullying prevention.