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What are the Signs and Impacts of Bullying, and How can you help your Children?

signs of bullying, impacts of bullying

Many Indian parents think that bullying is something that happens only in Western countries, and they can’t be blamed because they didn’t experience it when they were kids. But just because they haven’t experienced it does not mean that it does not exist. In reality, bullying is damaging the lives of children throughout the world, including in India.

Many stories have been covered recently in India that have shown what bullying can do to children, from psychological trauma to self-harm. So, it is essential for parents to be aware of the signs and consequences of bullying and what they can do to help their children. But before that, let us first define bullying.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted aggression through words, physical acts, or social actions to hurt someone. It is often continuous and one-sided in nature, and drastically impacts the mental health of the other. However, one should not confuse it with the normal argument between two people who are on the same level playing field.

Bullying occurs when a younger child is intimidated (physically or verbally) by an older child. It mostly occurs physically or verbally. Physical bullying causes body injuries, while verbal bullying, such as yelling, causes emotional and mental issues. Social or relational bullying is also carried out by peers or someone with more power, using tactics such as spreading rumours. Moreover, now a new type of bullying has emerged known as “Cyberbullying” in which digital platforms are used to mock and harass others. According to an article published in “The Times of India”, India leads the world in the percentage of children who have experienced cyberbullying.

Signs of bullying

Bullying infuses a sense of shame in children, due to which they are reluctant to talk about it with their parents or report it to school authorities. So, they are more likely to deny when you ask them if they are getting bullied or not. But you are their parent, and you should protect them.

Understanding the signs of bullying will help you with this.

1. Lower Self-Esteem
How would you feel when someone keeps saying that you are a loser? You will feel pathetic, right? The same is the case with children. So, if you feel that your children's self-esteem is deteriorating day by day, it's high time to do something, before it's too late. The best is to get in touch with their teachers as they will provide you valuable insights about your child's behaviour in the classroom which will help you both reach solutions.

2. Injuries, Damaged Articles or Clothing
Injuries, broken objects, or torn clothing are signs that your child is being bullied. Some bullies intentionally damage other children's belongings, such as notebooks or pencils, to threaten them or break their fighting spirit. And sometimes they even do physical harm to them, which is not good for their emotional and physical well-being.

3. Trouble Sleeping and Nightmares
If you find that your children can’t sleep at night, or they are experiencing nightmares, it might indicate that they are facing someone’s aggression. Sometimes, it can be a sign of exam pressure, but if they can’t sleep without any scheduled exams or tests, it is probably bullying.

4. Anti-social Behaviour
When children are targeted without any reason, they develop anti-social behaviour out of stress, fear, and trauma. You can consider it as a kind of coping mechanism that victims take to decrease the emotional pain that is associated with bullying. Though sometimes they can avoid some social activities because of laziness or lack of interest, when this becomes a repeated pattern, it indicates bullying.

5. Appears Unhappy
We know children can be unhappy because of exam pressure, peer conflicts or any other issues. But if their unhappiness is unexplained, especially if it is accompanied by anxiety or any other physical symptoms, this could be a sign of bullying. Moreover, if they are threatening to harm themselves or showing reluctance to go to school, they have become a victim of bullying.

Also read, Role of Moral Values in Early Childhood

Impact of bullying

Bullying affects a child in several ways. We can broadly classify its impacts into three categories: educational consequences, health consequences and consequences after they grow up. So, let us understand how bullying impacts a child’s overall development.

Educational Consequences

Bullying makes it difficult for children to focus on their studies, which lowers their grades and declines their overall performance in other activities as well, such as group projects, sports, games, etc. All this adds to the already deteriorating self-esteem and confidence of the child, affecting their long-term academic performance.

Health Consequences

Physical bullying directly harms the body, causing bruises, cuts and fractures. Also, the by-product of bullying - stress and anxiety weakens the immune system, which leads to physical issues such as stomachaches, sleep disturbance and fatigue. It also leads to mental health problems, which include depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD and many more.

Consequences After They Grow Up

Our childhood experiences shape our future, and if they are traumatic, they can have a profound impact on our future. Traumatic experiences such as bullying may hinder a child's career, relationship and overall development if they grow up experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or low self-esteem. So, it is vital to provide a safe and supportive environment to children, which is only possible with the support and collaboration of Top CBSE schools in Baddi and the wider community.

What can you do?

The first and foremost thing to do is to provide an empathetic ear to your child and have an open conversation with them. This will help you collect information about the situation they are facing and take the necessary action to resolve the issue.

Let us discuss what steps you can take to help your bullied child.

1. Educate your Child

As we have mentioned above, bullying takes different forms, from physical, verbal, and social to cyberbullying. Teaching your children about this will help them identify and respond assertively to the bullying, whether it happens online or offline. It will also equip them with the necessary tools that will help them go through challenging situations and seek support from adults.

2. Validate Their Feelings

Accept and acknowledge your child’s feelings, as this will reassure them their feelings of getting upset, scared or angry at the bully are valid. It is also vital to convey to your child that it's not their fault, and they should not blame themselves for the bully's behaviour. All this will give them a sense of security and comfort, which will help them go through this difficult situation.

3. Help them Explore Support Options

A bullied child needs support from their parents, teachers and seniors. So, encourage them to seek help from adults, such as teachers or staff members, who are trained to address such issues. These people will help them deal with such situations and take strict disciplinary against the bully and ensure their safety.

4. Teach them about Cyberbullying

We have discussed earlier that bullying happens both offline and online. Cyberbullying has become more prevalent nowadays. So, don’t forget to teach them the safety features that can help them stay away from online bullies and how to respond if someone makes fun of them online. These safety features include privacy settings and how to block abusive users.

5. Monitor their Well-Being

Even after everything is sorted out, your child can still experience the after-effects of bullying, such as fear, anxiety, or low esteem. So, keep monitoring their well-being and provide them with incessant support. However, if you think that they need therapy, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with a professional.

The Bottom Line

Bullying is not fiction, which only happens in movies and web series. It is happening in real life, affecting countless children throughout India and the world. So, you must monitor their well-being, look out for bullying symptoms and think of ways to support them. All this will help your kid live a positive and healthy life.