Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Bullying Signs and Prevention: If Not Halted in Its Tracks, Bullying Can Have Life-Long Ramifications, Such as Depression, Anxiety, and Suicidal Thoughts

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Bullying Signs and Prevention: If Not Halted in Its Tracks, Bullying Can Have Life-Long Ramifications, Such as Depression, Anxiety, and Suicidal Thoughts

Article excerpt

One of the worst experiences a child can face is bullying. Twenty-three percent of public schools reported that bullying occurred among students on a daily or weekly basis according to the 2011 National Indicators of School Crime and Safety. In this digital age, opportunities for bullying have expanded from classrooms, playgrounds, and buses to include cyberbullying, a particularly insidious form of cruelty as it is often done anonymously.

Among the most targeted groups are special needs individuals, especially those with autism. Preliminary results from a survey of parents of autistic children conducted by the Autism Speaks supported Interactive Autism Network revealed that 63 percent of 1,162 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder ages six to fifteen had been bullied at least once.

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If not halted in its tracks, bullying can have life-long ramifications, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Even bystanders are affected by the experience. Here are some signs to tell if your child is being bullied, and what actions to take for both teachers and parents to stop it in its tracks.

SIGNS

1. Problems at school begin to crop up, including frequent trips to the principal and detentions. Your previously well-behaved child is now in trouble constantly, and is often engaged in attention-seeking behaviors.

2. Your child may seem withdrawn or depressed, unable or unwilling to engage in favorite activities or make contact with friends. Events which would normally entice your child to participate hold no allure no matter how hard you cajole him or her to join the crowd.

3. Issues with sleeping or eating may occur. This may include sleeping too little or too much, and the same with eating issues. Any deviation from the norm is suspect.

4. Your otherwise compliant child reacts angrily or violently to situations in the home where he or she does not get their way. These reactions may occur over big issues, or seemingly small ones.

5. You notice that many of your child's belongings are either lost or damaged, and there's no rational explanation for why this occurred. Warnings that items may not be replaced may be met with indifference.

6. Grades begin to plummet, and your child seems reluctant to study or do homework. Your child may not seem to care that his or her grades have fallen, and any plans to rectify the situation may be rejected.

7. Suspicious bruises or injuries occur, and your child chooses not to tell you how he or she sustained them. Your son or daughter might also lie about how they were sustained.

8. Your child claims more and more frequent illnesses to avoid going to school, or is chronically late in the morning so that he or she must be driven. Often a bullied child will simply refuse to go to school without stating why.

9. Your child shuns all types of social media. If your child is typically attached to his or her phone, computer, or iPad, this is a huge warning sign.

10. You hear your child talk about injuring him or herself, or speak about suicide.

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PREVENTION

1. Talk to your child every day about his or her experiences with peers, including interactions in class, on the playground, and if applicable, on the bus. Monitor their time on computers, phones, iPads, etc. You are their first opportunity to secure help. If your child feels comfortable talking to you about his or her day, it may be easier for him or her to secure assistance. …

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