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Have you ever wondered “Is my child a bully?” or “Is bullying behavior affecting my child?”

Written by: Brittany Byrd, M.A.
Have you ever wondered “Is my child a bully?” or “Is bullying behavior affecting my child?”

Parents, teachers and counselors are noticing the increase of bullying in culture today. It is important to understand that both kids who are bullied and who bully others are at risk for serious and lasting emotional problems if the underlying causes aren’t addressed. Therefore, I want to provide information to help identify bullying signs and symptoms in order to prevent lasting mental health issues!

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, bullying is unwanted, repeated aggressive acts that involve a real or perceived power imbalance. Bullying can be broken down into 3 categories:

1) Verbal: teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, and/or threatening to cause harm. Examples include children hurting someone’s feelings or writing mean things on purpose. It is common to blame others for their problems and refuse responsibility for their actions.

2) Social: Excluding/ignoring people on purpose, telling other children not to be friends with others, spreading rumors, and/or embarrassing one in public

3) Physical: Hitting, biting, tripping/pushing, taking/breaking others’ belongings, engaging in mean and/or rude hand gestures

If an issue has happened over and over again, the same person(s) are involved, and what happened was on purpose, acts of bullying have occurred. And as a parent, you need to take action now.

Children who are bullied can experience emotional wounds that may or may not be talked about by your child. It is important to ask questions, validate his or her experience, and provide outlets to process what has happened. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, the effects of bullying need to be addressed because of the high risk associated with mental health issues later on in life. Kids who experience bullying or struggle with the bully role may struggle with the following:

  • Depression: increased feelings of loneliness and/or sadness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, loss of interest in activities they use to enjoy
  • Crying episodes
  • Withdrawal: reluctance to go to school, staying away from friends
  • Self-esteem issues: self-deprecating talk (“I am no good, I can’t, I am stupid, I hate myself, Nobody likes me”)
  • Health complaints: headaches, stomachaches, nausea, unexplained bruises
  • Academic struggles: sudden drop in grades, struggles to concentrate

If your child has discussed acts of bullying or many of these symptoms are present in your child, please do not ignore them. It is important to speak up now and allow your child the opportunity to heal.