Six Warning Signs That Your Child is Being Bullied
Approximately 160,000 children miss school every day in the United States for fear of being bullied; more than 50 suicides have been linked to prolonged bullying; and approximately 85% of school shootings have revenge against bullies as a major motive. The costs of bullying are high, but, unfortunately, many children suffer alone, keeping their bullying experiences to themselves.
Many children are taught that it is a sign of weakness to ask for help, and they hold back from telling anyone when they are being bullied for fear of appearing weak. Many children feel shame and assume, "Something must be wrong with me! Why else would they target ME?"
Children who are bullied are at risk for developing a number of emotional difficulties, including depression and anxiety symptoms. Children who are particularly traumatized may go on to develop a specific type of anxiety disorder called, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is usually brought on by a terrifying physical or emotional event or series of events. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include trouble sleeping, withdrawal from normal activities, a lack of concentration, and emotional numbness. When children are suffering from PTSD, they are prone to develop strong physical symptoms in situations where they feel unsafe and in danger. They appear disconnected from others, and they experience an intense physical response from their nervous system that involves angry outbursts, jumpiness, and hyper alertness. This reaction is the nervous system’s response to potential danger, whether real or imagined, creating constriction, disassociation, and helplessness in order to protect the body.
When children experience trauma, they often become frozen and exhibit feelings of helplessness and shame, rendering them nearly unable to defend themselves when attacked or put under pressure. These traumatized children then bring this frozen state of helplessness to many other situations that they perceive as threatening throughout their lives. And, the more withdrawn these children become, the more fearful and helpless they feel, the stronger the likelihood that they will slip into serious emotional trouble.
Parents need to be aware of the warning signs when their children may be experiencing depression, severe anxiety, or PTSD due to bullying. The following is a list of red flags to look for:
- Is your child disconnecting from people and isolating him/herself in their room? Although teens usually separate from the family, they normally connect more often with their friends.
- Has your child developed physical problems such as stomachaches and headaches that interfere with their life?
- Has your child’s schoolwork recently suffered, and is it difficult for your child to concentrate?
- Does your child have trouble falling, or staying asleep or experience frequent nightmares?
- Does your child seem listless, unenthusiastic, and disinterested in life?
- Have you noticed that your child seems hypervigilant, extremely nervous, depressed, or emotionally explosive (beyond the normal teenage angst and moodiness)?
If you suspect that your child is suffering from any of the above symptoms and you have not been able to help alleviate their suffering, you should consider having your child evaluated by a licensed psychologist, licensed marriage and family counselor, or licensed social worker. If you can’t afford to pay for private therapy sessions, virtually all cities have low-cost therapy clinics (check with your city or county department of mental health).
Dr. Ted Zeff is the author of The Strong, Sensitive Boy. For more information please visit www.drtedzeff.com
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- Problems With Standardized Testing
- The Homework Debate