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What Parents Need To Know About Bullying

With the start of a school year, kids and teens often face new and stressful situations. Unfortunately, one of the main sources of stress can come from their classmates – bullying. Trond Harman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Keystone Pediatrics Chambersburg, shares some important information all parents should know about the subject of bullying.

Why is bullying such an important issue?

Bullying is an important issue for us to address as a society due to the prevalence of it and the effects that it has on children. Bullying seems to have gotten worse in recent years and especially within the past year. Bullying has gone from teasing and picking on someone to making threats on their life. Our society has witnessed a recent problem with racism that seems to be carrying itself into our schools. Bullying has also gotten a new platform as many kids now engage in cyber bullying, which is something that was not seen in the past. This is more severe as it subjects the target to potentially have hundreds of others engage in bullying behaviors.

Bullying is something that is not always thought of as having a lasting impact on the lives of children, but this is not the case. There are many instances when bullying has led children to take severe measures to get out of the situation. It is important as a parent, and that we as a society, never take bullying too lightly or sweep it under the carpet.

What are the immediate effects of a teen or child being bullied?

Some of the immediate effects of bullying on kids are social withdrawal or isolation from others. Kids will begin to have an increase in their anxiety level and show more symptoms of depression. The increase in anxiety symptoms is especially true when in a social situation or doing things that they previously enjoyed.

Can there be long-term effects?

The long-term effects of bullying can be severe. I have had numerous clients that are victims of bullying and show many signs of trauma. The symptoms of trauma do not go away easily and can take years to overcome. Due to the increase in anxiety level and the traumatic effects of bullying, there are kids that will turn to self-mutilating behaviors – the most prevalent of these is cutting.

How can parents talk to their kids about bullying?

Parents need to have open and honest communication with their children. They should never close the door to communication with their child whether the behaviors are positive or negative. If you believe that your child is the victim of bullying, it is again important to keep an open and honest communication line with them. Ask questions about behaviors that you are observing with them that are not normal. Why do you not want to go to (name of their activity)? You seem to be crying a lot recently, is everything ok? Or you seem to be more on edge, is something bothering you? These are the types of questions that can open up that line of communication. It is amazing to me, but kids will not tell their parents how they are feeling, unless they are asked. Many kids tend to keep their feelings bottled up inside of them, which causes many other problems.

In the next article, I will discuss specific steps that parents can take if they find their child is being bullied, or if they discover their child is bullying others.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.