By Dvora Litt, Family Therapist
School is now officially in session. While this can be an exciting time of the year, it can also be stressful. Your child may likely have begun his first day with mixed anticipation. Whether entering kitah aleph, middle school or high school, concerns about fitting in and finding friends abound. Now is the best time to prepare your child for the school year with a discussion about the dangers of bullying.
A recent study indicates that victims of bullying in childhood have more serious health problems and financial troubles as adults. They are also more apt to struggle with social relationships, anxiety and depression. It appears that bullying has long lasting negative effects that can profoundly damage an individual’s self-esteem, emotional development and academic or career progress.
A child who is teased, excluded, harassed, verbally or physically attacked, threatened, ignored or humiliated is being bullied. The bullying may take place in the classroom, on the playground, in the hallway or in the bathroom. It can happen while traveling on the bus or hasa’a. Text messages, emails and Facebook all carry an additional danger of targeted bullying that can go viral – with devastating consequences to the victim.
If your child is showing any of the following signs consider bullying as the source:
Reluctance or refusal to go to school
Sudden avoidance of the computer
Mood changes after using the computer or cell phone
Refusal to travel on the hasa’a or by bus
Frequent physical complaints such as stomach aches and headaches
Bruises or frequent injuries
Missing personal items
Anxious or withdrawn
If it has been established that your child is being bullied it is important to listen carefully and to empathize calmly. Avoid blaming or minimizing. Your initial reaction may be to retaliate especially if a bad childhood memory of your own is triggered. Rather, discuss helpful strategies with your child. Brainstorm and make a plan. This will empower him. He may already have some ideas and may need you to practice implementing them through role play.
Your child may need you to advocate for him by involving his teacher. Always follow up and if the bullying has not stopped, involve the principal. Remember, the school is obligated to provide a safe learning environment for each and every one of its students. Your child needs to be assured that he does not have to handle the situation alone and that he can turn to you for help.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_facebook][/vc_column][/vc_row]