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Is Your Child Being Bullied?

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We’re entering into another school year, and with that can come the bullies. Kids aren’t always going to admit that they’re being bullied, so here are a few ways to tell if your kids are being bullied.

I was bullied in school and it was awful. Sixth grade was one of the worst years of my life. The names, the taunts, and the physical harm was some days just too much to take. Now, with the advent of social media sites, the playground bully isn’t as obvious. I would beg my parents to let me switch schools, stay home from school or just let me be home schooled. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

Faking Sick

Megan O’Laughlin, a licensed independent clinical social worker in Seattle who counsels troubled teens and families says that if your child is complaining of headaches and stomachaches, it could be that they’re legitimately sick, or it could be because they’re trying to avoid an encounter with a bully. The School Crime and Safety Report says that five percent of kids ages 12 to 18 have skipped school due to bullying. Megan says to take their medical symptoms seriously and take them to the doctor because she says kids who are too embarrassed to talk about it with their parents may be more comfortable talking to their doctor.


Unexplainable Injuries

I used to get stopped on my way home and confronted by girls who were spreading rumors about me. They pushed me down so hard, it bruised by tailbone. Has your child come home with a cut, a scrape or a bruise they didn’t have an explanation for? It could be that things got a little rough at practice, or it could be that they’re being physically harmed by another student. According to the School Crime and Safety Report, more than one in four kids reported being bullied and out of that, one in ten says they were physically harmed. It took me a while to recover from the bruised tailbone and I was walking funny at school so you can imagine what kind of rumors started then.


Falling Grades

I used to be number four in GPA at school. I ended up graduating number 110 out of 223 in my class. Did your honor roll student suddenly stop caring about school, stop doing school work, is skipping class or is suddenly not interested in things they used to love? A study done by the Journal of Early Adolescence shows that the more intense the bullying, the more grades fell. Student Counselor Natalie Stone adds that if you notice your child’s friends going to dances, getting their drivers licenses, and reaching other milestones and your child has no interest it could be another sign.


Losing Things

In seventh grade all of my books were stolen out of my locker and I was on the hook for it. Have you noticed your child is suddenly missing her favorite necklace, her iPod or her lunch money? Chances are that she didn’t really lose it. Natalie says that, yes, kids can be forgetful, but if you ask and there’s no real explanation as to why it’s missing or the child tries to avoid talking about it, there could be a bigger problem. If they say that someone stole it, you can at least get the police involved. Natalie says, “Stealing is considered wrong, but being mean to someone is not.” Thankfully, my books were recovered in the locker of the kid I suspected stealing them.


Changing Social Circles

If you notice your child not hanging around with kids they used to be close friends with, not being invited to birthday parties, or hanging with kids you don’t know, something could be going on.


Not Wanting to Talk About It

The School Crime and Safety report found that kids who are bullied only report it about one third of the time. If you try to ask your child what’s going on and they refuse to talk about it, get angry, defensive, or avoid you, it could be because they don’t want to be labeled as a “tattletale”, or it could be because they’ve already talked to an adult at school and they’re afraid of more retaliation or just that nothing was done about it. At least that was the case with me. I felt like I was in the middle of a crowded room screaming and no one bothered to look up. Megan says if your child is a little older, let them know they can come to you, but give them space to process what’s going on.

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