Parentdish has partnered with BeatBullying - the anti-bullying charity. Our ongoing partnership will bring you information and advice on bullying, including what parents, family members and children can do to help.
In the first of our dedicated features, we look at the signs that a child may be being bullied.
Every parent wants their child to find it easy to talk to them, especially if something is making them scared or miserable. But being bullied can be difficult for young people to talk about. There is often a stigma attached to reporting bullying to any adult - even with a parent they have a really good relationship with.
If you're worried that your child might be being bullied, here are some signs to look out for:
Injuries that a child cannot or will not give a convincing explanation for particularly if he/she is often injured and if there seems to be a pattern of when the injuries happen, e.g. after particular activities/classes.
Children who are being bullied often start showing general symptoms of ill health due to stress or complaining of feeling too unwell to go to school. If they are avoiding school and activities even if they are not unwell- they may well have a good reason.
"Emotional signs "
Becoming aggressive and hostile themselves. Children and young people who are made to feel vulnerable and frustrated by bullying that happens outside the home often react by expressing their frustration in outbursts of anger when they are back in the relative safety of their home.
Depression and tearfulness.
Lack of confidence and negative self-image.
"Behavioural signs "
Being generally withdrawn- including withdrawal from physical contact with you and other family members and friends and not wanting to communicate.
Changes in eating habits. A lot of bullying is to do with personal appearance, size and shape and young people experiencing bullying are often very dissatisfied with their bodies.
Alcohol and/or drug use- this can sometimes be a coping mechanism for young people being bullied or a result of peer pressure.
Lashing out and abuse of others
"General signs "
A child who is being bullied may frequently 'lose' money, possessions, items of clothing and equipment. This may be because somebody is taking them.
A child who is being bullied may be tired and sleepy a lot of the time or alternatively, may seem hyperactive with too much energy and unable to concentrate.
• You may find that your child is often coming home from school before the end of the day, or you may be called in to see your child's teacher about lateness and truanting that you previously knew nothing about. You may also find that your child changes his/her route to school suddenly. This can be to avoid meeting the people doing the bullying.
If your child shows one or more of these signs, they are not necessarily being bullied - but they are generally an indication that something is wrong and can be your cue to try and find out what that might be.
Natalie was severely and relentlessly bullied offline and also online. She became a victim at school, where fellow students would call her abusive names due to her weight and even try to cut her hair whilst she was in class. The bullying followed Natalie home when she became a member on the website Formspring and she started to receive anonymous, abusive messages and comments. She would receive comments saying things, such as she was fat, ugly and that she should die.
The bullying became so bad that Natalie ended up in hospital after a dizzy spell; which resulted in her being diagnosed with manic anxiety. This pushed Natalie to speak out and talk to her parents. She also turned to BeatBullying where she could speak with her peers.
If your child is aged 11-17, they can get advice and support from mentors their own age and professional counsellors on BeatBullying.org.uk.
More from our partnership with BeatBullying: Help stop school bullying and support Adyen's Law
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