The signs of bullying in children usually manifest in them not wanting to go to school on Monday mornings, or frequent complaints of headaches and stomach pains.
Your child will want to skip school to avoid meeting the bully and his demands, while the headache and stomach pains arise from emotional stress and anxiety due to bullying.
Overall, bullying can lead to psychological low-downs such as low self-esteem, hopelessness, loneliness, depression, embarrassment, shyness, fear, and poor academic performance at school!
What is bullying?
Bullying happens when one child uses aggressive actions and words to coerce, embarrass, make fun of, abuse, grab property, threaten, and even assault another child.
The bully does this repeatedly and intentionally to dominate, cause emotional pain, or physical harm upon the victim.
This is how Wikipedia defines bullying:
Bullying is the use of force, coercion, or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception (by the bully or by others) of an imbalance of physical or social power.
When bullies team up as a mob, they can inflict lasting emotional and physical harm.
Bullying is made worse globally because of rapid urbanization, cross-cultural existence, and technology. Technology for one, has caused more than enough headaches! Children who have been earmarked for bullying at school are also targeted online.
The problem is estimated to affect a third of the children who use the internet.
According to UNICEF,
Around one-in-three young people across 30 countries say they have been bullied online, while one-in-five report that they have skipped school because of it.
Children who bully others are most likely victims of bullying themselves or have unwittingly been forced to join bullying groups through peer influence.
Many times bullies become bullies because of a feeling of inadequacy and wanting to impose themselves on others. They may have bigger body masses, are generally defiant, short-tempered, and believe in solving problems through violence.
They normally have no empathy, and therefore care less about the feelings and pain others experience.
In a much bigger picture, however, bullies are by-products of unstable and broken homes, where violence is common even with parents.
Besides fellow children, teachers too, relatives, and the community contribute to the bullying of young children. Teachers may participate in bullying by shaming learners because of poor academic performance! They do this knowingly or unknowingly and this leaves the society confused or not understanding the true extent of bullying.
These are the three categories of bullying:
- Direct bullying is done through physical actions such as beating, theft, destruction of property, and face-to-face abuse.
- Indirect bullying is when a victim is excluded from social groups. He is also subjected to viral social rumors and lies.
- Cyberbullying is when perpetrators use social media chat platforms, text messaging, email and other electronic platforms to torment, mock, and embarrass victims.
According to UNICEF, victims of bullying are kids who are,
- culturally different
- of different religion
- of different social status
- victims of health disabilities
- academically gifted in class
- socially shy
- children of color
- new in the community or school
- quiet and peaceful
Common signs of bullying in children
When children suddenly develop behavioral changes and want to keep to themselves, it is probably time to take a close look and find out what the matter is.
Of course, other reasons, medical included, could as well lead to withdrawal and related symptoms, but this does not stop parents from finding out getting to the bottom of the problem.
Below are common signs of bullying in children, both at school and at home. Beware, the bullying child maybe yours as well!
1. Signs of bullying in children at school
Bullying happens at home, in the neighborhood, online, but is most prevalent in schools, because the environment is conducive.
First, there is a lack of direct monitoring of individual learners because of the unfavorable teacher-learner ratio.
Second, the school environment collects children from all kinds of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
Somehow, these children will behave and treat each other differently as par their backgrounds.
Children who are bullied at school will show the following symptoms. They will
- experience an unexplained decline in academic performance
- have unexplained injuries, bruises, cuts from fighting
- develop mood swings during lessons
- have a few friends
- have low self-esteem due to frequent ridicule
- develop aggression as a defensive mechanism
- lose stuff at school
- are targets of ridicule and teasing
- say little during class discussions
- experience persistent headaches and other emotional pains
2. Signs of bullying in children at home
The home is meant to be the place that victims of bullying find solace and peace of mind. The children should be at ease most of the time, and should not exhibit the telltale signs evident at school.
Nonetheless, a few signs will be evident back home and it is up to parents to pay attention.
Usually, the victims
- have difficulties sleeping at night, and are often turning and twisting
- experience repeated nightmares at night
- are unwilling to discuss any bullying problems
- come home hungry because bullies ate their food
- develop change in eating habits – usually low appetite
- have unexplained injuries, bruises, cuts, swellings
- are sickly sometimes or pretend to be so in the morning in order to skip school
- have stomach pains because of hunger, food poisoning, and anxiety
- look freighted sometimes
- have little interest in social media, where they have been active
- develop an interest in gadgets, where they have not been active
- have low self-esteem
- become aggressive and want to bully younger siblings
The role of parents, teachers & the community
Active parenting, awareness, and seamless communication between children, parents, educators and the community are fundamental in discovering and stopping bullying. Correct parenting can also help reduce the number of children who become bullies.
Children should be encouraged to report cases of bullying even when they are not the victims.