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Are you doing enough to help your child cope with bullying?

Has your child ever been repeatedly exposed to unwanted aggressive behaviour at school or within your neigbourhood? If so, they may have been experienced bullying, which can have a serious impact on a child’s mental health. It is commoner than most people think.  For instance, a review of 80 studies on bullying revealed that one out of three 12-18 year olds reported been bullied. Also, one  and one out of six is exposed to cyberbullying.
Individuals who get targeted by bullies have no control over their looks, body shapes and race which are the commonest reasons for bullying.
According to a recent study, bullied children may have symptoms of anxiety, depression and psychotic-like experiences such as disorganized behaviour and persecutory ideas.  According to the researchers, some of these mental health problems may persist for 2 years. However, most of the symptoms had resolved in five years.
The  findings  of the study were published earlier this week in JAMA Psychiatry.Dr. Pingault and his team made this conclusion from a large population study in England and Wales.

According to Dr Pingault,
“Our finding that this direct contribution [of bullying to negative mental health outcomes] dissipated or reduced over time, highlights the potential for resilience in children exposed to bullying. In addition to primary prevention aiming to stop exposure to bullying, secondary preventive interventions in children exposed to bullying should address prior vulnerabilities, such as mental health difficulties, if we are to achieve a long-term impact on mental health.”

How to tell if your child is bullied?

First, you should know that bullying involves more than physical assault, it may also be social or verbal. To tell if it is indeed bullying, look for two things: Is the other person using superior strength, influence r popularity to intimidate others? Does this occur repeatedly? Apart from hitting , kicking, shoving or damaging other people’s things, consider other forms of bullying such as:

Saying or writing mean things. This is verbal bullying  which includes:

  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Taunting
  • Threatening to cause harm

Hurting someone’s reputation or relationships.  This is Social bullying  which includes:

  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public

Bullying may also occur online. This is cyberbullying which may also have serious impact on victims. When a child is repeatedly exposed to some of these unpleasant experiences, it may have a long lasting impact on the child’s mental health, relationships  and academic performance. In extreme cases, some teenagers have taken their lives on account of intense bullying.

What are some of the warning signs of bullying?

More than half of children bullied fail to tell their parents or any reponsible adult. Therefore, you must look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs.

According to experts some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:

  • Unexplainable injuries-You may see bruises and injuries which the child may try to hide from you
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness usually to avoid going to school
  • Changes in eating habits such as poor appetite or  binge  eating
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem which makes it difficult for them to ask for help
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide. This is often a cry for help which may lead to suicide if unrecognized.

It is not enough to tell a child to tough things out when bullied , there is a need to do more. According to one study, telling the student to solve the problem themselves, that the bullying wouldn’t happen if they acted differently, ignored them or telling  them student to stop complaining one makes things worse.

What  Can You do if your child is bullied?

Listening and spending time with the child,

Genuine personal interest such as checking to find out if the bullying stopped

Counseling on specific situations. This could involve using a buddy system, acting brave, walking away, avoiding locations or settings where the child may be at risk.

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