Bullying: Is Your Kid a Victim?

by : Karen Cook

TV news anchors are reporting this daily. We've read the newspaper headlines. We can't believe it has all come to this. It's a cause of suicide. Violence and murder. Now we can't ignore it anymore.

It's bullying! And, it has to be stopped.

Make no mistake. If adults were abused in the same manner as our bullied kids, we would call the police.

Some statistics to serve as a wake-up call are:

* Every 7 minutes a child is bullied on the playground
* 8% of students miss one day of school per month because of fear
* 43% are afraid to go to the school bathroom
* 1 out of 4 kids is abused by another kid
* 28% of youths who carry weapons witness violence in the home

These stats are taken from the excellent website:

Does anyone defend your child? Not by a long shot.

* Adult intervention 4%
* Peer intervention 11%
* No intervention 85%

Shocking, right? But, what if it is happening to your kid? You will want to do everything in your power to help your child because it's not a matter of "kids being kids" anymore. Bullying has become an epidemic leading to serious consequences.

How will you know your child is in trouble with bullies if they won't tell you? Many won't. They are afraid to speak up.

There are some signs you can watch for:

* mood changes. Are they becoming angry, depressed, anxious?
* suddenly does poorly in school
* does not want to go to school
* complains of physical ailments in order to stay home
* comes home with damaged clothing or belongings
* complains of "losing" belongings
* has unexplained marks or bruises

It's important to help your child know it's okay to talk about the incidents with you. An important description for younger children is the difference between "tattling" and "telling".

Tattling is when you say something about another person to get them in trouble just for the fun of it.

Telling is reporting something someone has done to you to cause physical or emotional harm. And the actions were carried out with malice and intention.

Parents, teachers, principals and law enforcement officers must understand the far-reaching effects of bullying. The antisocial behavior that started on the playground can span a lifetime.

The bully's aggression can manifest into sexual harassment, date violence, gang attacks, spousal abuse and elder abuse.

The bullied child will have self-esteem issues. Grades will suffer with many victims dropping out of school to get away from their tormentors. They may make poor choices when dating because they come to believe it's acceptable to be treated with disrespect.

Their hurt and anger can lead to depression. And, a discontented and unaccomplished life.

So whatever age your child, you must make noise. There is nothing as heart-wrenching as seeing your loved one crippled spiritually.

As much as we feel for the parents that are in the headlines, nobody wants to be another statistic.

(c) 2006 Karen Cook