Bullying is one of those topics that gets me fired up. When I hear about it I just want to shout, "CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?!" Well, I'm not naive. I know that in the real world, unfortunately, bullies exist, and getting along can be harder than it sounds.
Here are some staggering statistics about bullying found on https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html:
"In one large study, about 49% of children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month, whereas 30.8% reported bullying others during that time."
"According to one large study, the following percentages of middle schools students had experienced these various types of bullying: name calling (44.2 %); teasing (43.3 %); spreading rumors or lies (36.3%); pushing or shoving (32.4%); hitting, slapping, or kicking (29.2%); leaving out (28.5%); threatening (27.4%); stealing belongings (27.3%); sexual comments or gestures (23.7%); e-mail or blogging (9.9%)." (emphasis mine)
Think about the size of your school or your children's school...imagine how many even 20% of the population would be, let alone over 40%! That's a lot of children who may be experiencing being called names, teased, lied about, pushed, hit, rejected, stolen from or more on a regular basis.
Please do NOT underestimate the effects that bullying can have! Whoever said "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" was definitely mistaken. Words do hurt. Rejection hurts. Teasing hurts. Isolation hurts. Being pushed around and stolen from HURTS! Being hurt time after time after time can have lifelong effects on people. For children and adolescents whose minds, self-worth, confidence, and place in the world are still being developed and determined, the effect of day to day bullying can be extremely damaging.
Because many people do not speak up when bullying is happening to them, parents and other adults in their lives may not even know it is going on. Therefore, it is crucial that people become aware of any changes children's behaviors. Some of the warning signs that bullying may be going on include:
Sleeping pattern changes
Self-esteem, confidence, relationships, overall well- being, academics, and more can all be negatively effected by bullying, and can effect people well into adulthood if it doesn't stop and they do not get the help they need.
Parents, if you see any of the above warning signs, please get them the help they need! Be their advocate.
Therapists can help children and adolescents with improving their self esteem, assertiveness skills, learning to love themselves, and other techniques to help them manage their anxiety and depression.
Children and adolescents, please speak up to a trusted authority if bullying is happening to you!
Authority figures, please do not dismiss the cries for help.