Bullying is a pattern of behavior, rather than an isolated incident. Children, who bully, usually come from a perceived higher social status or position of power, such as children who are bigger, stronger, or perceived to be popular. The most vulnerable children face a higher risk of being bullied. These are often children from communities that are marginalized, children from poor families, children with different gender identities, children with disabilities, or migrant and refugee children.
You can usually identify bullying through the following three characteristics: intent, repetition, and power. A bully intends to cause pain, either through physical harm or hurtful words or behavior – and does so repeatedly. Boys are more likely to experience physical bullying, while girls are more likely to experience psychological bullying.
Bullying can happen both in person or online. Cyberbullying often occurs over social media, SMS/text or instant message, email, or any online platform where children interact. Because parents may not always follow what their children are doing on these platforms, it can be difficult to know when your child is affected. So, what signs should you look out for?
• Physical marks such as unexplained bruises, scratches, and healing wounds.
• Fear of going to school or joining school events.
• Having few friends in school or outside of school.
• Clothing, electronics, or other personal belongings being lost or destroyed.
• Low academic performance.
• Not sleeping well and maybe having nightmares.
• Complaining of headaches, stomach aches, or other physical ailments.
• Becomes unusually secretive, especially when it comes to online activities.
• Being aggressive or having angry outbursts.
If you know your child is being bullied, there are steps you can take to help them:
1. Listen to your child openly and calmly. Focus on making them feel heard and supported, instead of trying to find the cause of the bullying or trying to solve the problem.
2. Tell the child that you believe them. Communicate that you are glad they told you, and it is not their fault. Make clear that will do your best to find help.
3. Talk to the teacher or school. You and your child do not have to face bullying alone. Ask if your school has a bullying policy or code of conduct. This may apply to both in-person bullying and online.
4. Be a support system. For your child, having a supportive parent is essential to dealing with the effects of bullying. Make sure they know they can talk to you at any time.
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