It was once considered just a normal part of growing up, but bullying today has reached new levels of cruelty, and abuse, both physically and emotionally. It is a serious concern for parents, and a terrifying and tragic experience for the child. What should be the best times of their lives, often turns into a tormenting nightmare.
Children can become withdrawn, just like adults, over many problems in their life, but if your child suddenly becomes overly quiet, secretive, and just wants to be left alone, these factors should be a warning that something serious is going on. Children are often embarrassed or afraid to disclose problems that they are having at school. They may also be afraid that parents, becoming involved, will only serve to make the problem worse.
If a child that normally enjoys going to school suddenly drags their feet, feigns illness, or has very real physical symptoms, such as head aches, or stomach pains on a regular basis, this too may be a sign that they are trying to avoid contact with certain schoolmates. Other signs are suddenly failing grades, a disinterest in school activities, and lack of contact with friends. Any drastic change in your child’s personality should send up a red flag. Anxiety and depression, even in small children is a real and serious problem, as are sudden violent outbursts. Children may very well act out at home in response to situations at school that they cannot control.
Older children, especially, are always dissatisfied with something about their appearance, but sudden obsessions over certain features, weight, or other physical characteristics may also be a warning sign. Unfortunately, physical attributes have become an important aspect in school and can be blown out of proportion by others.
In extreme cases, actual physical harm may be the result of bullying. Obvious signs of fighting or any physical harm should be investigated immediately, as should reports from school concerning altercations and disciplinary problems.
Teenagers that have turned to texting rather than actually going out with friends, or having friends over, are trying to avoid some problem in the outside world. Unfortunately, we have seen many examples of this in the past few years, where the seriousness of their despair is never realized until it is too late.
In an age where bullies and tormentors have even more methods of getting to our children such as e-mail and texts, this problem has grown well beyond normal childhood experience and turned into a serious and deadly dilemma that has to be dealt with immediately.