The elephant in the room today is the bullying and depression experienced by many school children. Bullying has been around for centuries, but in the modern world, the opportunities for even anonymous bullying abound. How can parents help their children if they suspect they are the victims of bullying at school?
There are a variety of opinions regarding the best way to respond to a bully. The old-fashioned way was to hit the bully back. Today, a youngster who responds to emotional or physical bullying at school with retaliatory violence often finds themselves punished. There are several predominant ideas for responding appropriately to a bully:
• Enlist the help of the bully’s parents or a teacher at school
• Travel with other friends instead of being alone
• Seek counseling to find support until the issue is resolved
• Have the victim enroll in a martial arts class to gain confidence in facing large, aggressive bullies
Overall, no one else can force the bully to stop their behavior. There could and should be significant consequences for their actions; however, no guarantees exist that bullies will learn their lesson. Therefore, the focus generally needs to remain with the victim of the bullying.
A child experiencing bullying may exhibit behavior such as unexpectedly crying or bursting out in anger. They may suddenly lose interest in activities that they used to love to participate in. A previously healthy child may complain of aches and pains with no identifiable physical cause. Appetites might change. Grades that were excellent may plummet.
Obviously, any of the above occurrences would cause a parent to be concerned for the well-being of their child. The best defense in this case is an offense of love, concern, attention and a listening ear. The effects of bullying, whether cyber, physical or emotional, can be devastating in a developing youngster.
Bullying and depression do not go away by themselves. If the bullying is occurring on school grounds and officials are not responding in helpful ways, it may be time to find a different education option. If the bullying is online, then perhaps it is time to help the child find other means of communicating with their friends. The most important thing a bullied child needs is continually expressed and demonstrated parental love.