Bullying You Are Not Alone

Urgent note to parents: Your child’s future children (your grandchildren) could be affected by the below offensive, bullying-related material below. As for the “mean girls” (and boys), their future children will also be aware of their parents’ mean actions. To today’s parents: Teach and guide your children on this reality. It may help improve their choices today.

Signs That Your Child is Affected by Bullying

  • Symptoms of physical illness: headaches, stomach aches, intestinal issues, fatigue and more
  • Low self-esteem and/or self-worth
  • Withdrawal, isolation, self-harming (i.e.: cutting their arms or legs)
  • Loss of appetite or increased appetite (risk of eating disorders)
  • Loss of motivation
  • Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, moodiness, irritability, emotional
  • Acting out abusively towards someone else i.e.: younger sibling or neighbour
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts to take their lives (this can affect individuals of all ages from elementary school to senior citizens)

Tips for Parents: What Can You Do?

  1. Become knowledgeable about bullying. Read many articles, books, and hear from different perspectives. Talk to a reputable anti-bullying specialist.
  2. Hold family discussions about bullying and be sure to listen in. Let your family teach you as well. This is empowering for them.
  3. Tune in and monitor behaviour changes such as moods, reactions, appetite, and physical appearance. Talk with your doctor to see if a checkup might be needed.
  4. Be available and present. Try not to force your children to talk; instead, create an environment where your children will experience you as really listening and understanding “their perspective”. Accept their statements no matter how bizarre (right/wrong) they may be. Validate their feelings, for this is “real” to them. Once they calm down and feel safe with knowing that you do “get them”, use their own language around this experience to “explore other options”. If they become reactive with you, they simply do not feel heard or safe yet. Keep trying. Let them know you are there.
  5. Provide them with material to read or videos about bullying to watch (i.e.: YouTube). Share your own experiences from when you were a child. Walk with them and “empower them” as you brainstorm solutions.
  6. Children will often refuse to let you address the abuse. Gently teach them about the seriousness (i.e.: it is progressive) and the importance of reporting incidences (others are being abused too). Remind them they are not alone and that you are going to protect them no matter what.
  7. Set time limits on computer/cell phone usage. Monitor their usage and download parental control apps. We highly recommend that you have copies of your child’s passwords just in case you need to step in. Empower them by being willing to negotiate. Though they may complain, all children like to know that their parents are strong enough to stand by their rules and set these limits for them (stability).
  8. Do not ignore signs and do not seek revenge. You are an important role model for problem-solving. Use wise, ethical, and moral judgement when acting on this issue.
  9. Talk to the teacher(s) and the principal and request a follow up in writing. Following your discussion, provide them with a summary of your discussion via email. A paper trail is important.
  10.  See a family counsellor for support, guidance and healing. A professional documenting your concerns is important, but health and safety always come first. Plan activities that your child or children enjoy. Help them remember to have fun, laugh, and feel good. Ask those who love them to give positive feedback and highlight their attributes.

Learn more about bullying here: The B’s of Bullying

Tips for Youth

  1. It is important for you to learn about bullying and cyberbullying. There’s plenty of material online, books, and anti-bullying programs for all ages to join.
  2. Talk to someone: parents, other adults you are close to, and siblings. Allow people to support you. Keep trying until someone “understands”.
  3. Keep a journal (if you can) of your experiences. Dates, names, and details of what occurred. “IF SAFE” use your phone to record voice or actions. Bystanders can keep records too.
  4. Know that you are not alone – that you did not cause this and you do not deserve this. The person who is bullying you is in the wrong. There are many possible explanations for their abusive behaviour but none of them are about you. Even if you were perfect, once you become a target, they would bully you for being perfect. It is not your fault.
  5. If possible, try not to be alone walking to/from school. Ask a friend for this kind of support. Try not to feel embarrassed about your feelings are valid. If you do not have someone to walk with, ask that your parents or another adult assist you. Ask for help.
  6. You are not alone! Got to YouTube and listen to songs like Who Are You or Who’s Laughing Now, by Jessie J, Brave by Sara Bareilles, Wings by Little Mix, Mean by Taylor Swift and What Got You by Mary J. Blige. These songs will bring up some feelings for you. Express your feelings through writing, art, poetry, and talking to someone.
  7. Ask others what they have gone through. Your parents, older siblings, and others.
  8. When you see the “mean girls” acting out and hear them whisper, always know that something is not going right in their lives. They are suffering and are using you to hide it. Remind yourself that this is not about you. They will target someone else as soon as you no longer react to their abuse. Find help to get you through this and you will find the strength to no longer react.
  9. Be good to yourself. Do not isolate. Return to doing the things you enjoy. It is important to build your strength by having fun, laughing, and feeling connected to those who do love and appreciate you.
  10. Take care of yourself by eating right, sleeping well, exercising, and focusing on your positives. If you are struggling to recall positives, ask for help with this.

Never Give Up

Children, parents, teachers and other professionals may experience barriers, resistance, and many frustrations when addressing this issue. Keep reaching for help. Resources are now available to you. Contact ABRC for information about resources in your area.

Linda R. Crockett MSW, RSW Founder, CEO and Therapist ABRC (abullyrc@gmail.com)
Williams – Social Psychology