If your child comes home from school with a black eye, you might have a clue that he is being bullied. But the damage done by bullies is not just physical; it is mental and emotional as well. Look for these signs that your child is possibly being bullied. The physical effects of bullying will heal in a short period of time, but the effects of mental and emotional bullying can last a lifetime.
Occasionally, I still feel the effects in my daily life of the bullying that I endured more than fifty years ago. I do not think that the trauma ever completely goes away. So it is imperative that we, as parents, do everything we can to minimize the effects of bullying as we realize that it is taking place. Look for the following:
1) Her grades drop suddenly for no apparent reason.
2) They frequently lose their school supplies and other belongings at school.
3) She has no hobbies or outside interests.
4) He complains that he “doesn’t fit in.”
5) She seldom completes her homework.
6) Their school attendance drops suddenly.
7) He has more absences and tardies.
8) She doesn’t want to go to school events.
9) They have talked about suicide.
10) She seems depressed.
11) Her voice has no energy.
12) She moves slowly.
13) He gets sick often.
14) She can’t seem to concentrate.
15) He comes home from school with unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches.
16) They have few or no friends.
17) He doesn’t like any of his classes.
18) She can’t identify anything she is good at.
19) They refuses to ride the school bus home, says they would rather walk.
This list might cover most of what you are likely to see. But I can guarantee that it is not complete. There may very well be more that you see that apply particularly to your child if they are being bullied.
More than half of this list can be used to describe me during my grade-school years. I was frequently in the school nurse’s office, complaining about one medical issue or another—even if there was nothing physically wrong. It was a way for me to try to avoid the bullies, even for a little while. Starting in fourth grade, my grades went steadily downward. I failed the eleventh grade, and was forced to try to repeat it.
Halfway through the school year, I quit school altogether. I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I had little chance of graduating and no chance of getting into college. The long-term effects of bullying eventually led to my developing complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). It can result in an inability to form relationships, to take care of oneself, to want to hurt oneself or others. Believe me, I know.
This can be particularly devastating to any child who is different. Or might be special in some way. It was unknown at the time, but I had been born with the Tourette’s Trifecta ( Tourette Syndrome, OCD, and ADHD). If your child has anything about them that marks them as different, there will always be someone who will use it against them, as sad as that might be.
Here is a secondary list of signs that your child may be enduring bullying.
1) Unable to speak up in class.
2) Comes home hungry as if her lunch money had been take away from her.
3) Changes in sleep patterns.
4) Changes in eating habits.
5) Frequent out bursts of anger or rage.
6) Even changes in her speech patterns.
When I was 13, I was raped by two 15 year old neighborhood boys. It never seems to dawn on either one of my parents when I suddenly stopped having anything to do with either one of them and I started building model cars in my bedroom so that I did not have to go outside and possibly run into them.
Anything that seems out of character or strange, don’t ignore it. Ask questions. Remember, your child’s life could depend upon how aware you are as to what is going on in their life.