What to look for if you think your child is being bullied
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Louise Whitnall Bsc Hons senior MBACP Accredited. UKRCP Reg. Psychotherapist
6th February, 2012
Since time immemorial bullying has been present in our homes, schools, place of work in society at large and most recently cyber space. Often covert and not always easy to detect the subtle and overt demonstrations of bullying cause human suffering, with devastating consequences, at times leading to serious mental health problems or more rarely although not unheard of suicide. Statistics show children who are severely bullied at school are up to 4 times more likely to develop psychotic type symptoms.
The word bullying seems to down play the severity of the situation, it may conjure images of Bully Beef stealing sweets from a smaller child yet covers up the multitude of anti social and violent behaviours, serious intimidations, physical assault, constant taunts and aggression, exclusion and intention to harm. The term bullying is confusing as conflict such as teasing and play fighting, in part help us learn to deal with conflict. Despite anti bullying policies within our schools, children still bully and are bullied.
It may be a sweetener to think that bullies come from deprived homes and have been bullied, that somehow the victim is therefore better than, or advantaged in some way, but this attitude does not reflect the reality, this attitude sets up the victim to be the perpetrator of his own assault as well as creating an illusion that bullies do not come from homes that have provided a secure and nurturing base, this is not the case. One of the difficulties for our children is the reluctance to report bullying for fear of repercussions so when choosing schools it is always worth looking carefully at the anti bullying policies they have in place.
If you feel that your child is being bullied there are certain things you can look for apart form the more outward signs of physical abuse, and missing valuables. Depression is a common reaction to bullying which comprises of anxiety, problems with sleeping, eating, relating, or wanting to isolate, these behaviours can commonly be put down to being a petulant child/teenager therefore parents need to be conscious to their children’s silent communications. Perhaps one reasons why it is be difficult to address the complexity of bullying is that it is hard to reflect on the serious and dark side of bullying which often connects to our own disowned and repressed feelings and emotions of what it is to be the bully or the bullied.
But like all repressed feelings they must show themselves somehow. The responsibly we have as adults is to own and discover which side of the fence we stand, to start with ourselves and honestly set example. Being self aware of our own positioning will not of course put an end to all bullying, we can not change each individual personality we are however responsible for and can make a change to our own, it’s a start.
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