How many times have you picked up a newspaper and ready a story about a young boy or girl killing themselves because they were being bullied at school? Take this one step further, how many of you have children that have come home and told you they themselves were being bullied at school? Normal name calling and “stick and stones” games from the past just are not the same anymore. Nowadays kids are more vindictive and have evil tendencies, when it comes to them picking on someone else. And we are finding that these occasions are happening to teens that are gay, overweight, or a social outcast. Whatever the case may be, this is increasingly becoming more an epidemic that truly needs to be addressed.
San Diego-based Marriage and Family Therapist Jennine Estes said LGBT students can be more susceptible to peer bullying simply because of their orientation. “Unfortunately LGBT students can be more susceptible to peer bullying because it can be used against them,” Estes said. “A bully often will find anything as leverage, to use it as ammunition. Bullying students tend to use any issue as ammunition; such as clothing, hair color, acne, hair-style… Children can be very hurtful, and the bullying kids can destroy another child’s heart.” The result to students on the receiving end, she said, can be shattering. “The bullying can devastate their self-esteem, make them feel less-than, drastically hurt their confidence, and create life-long emotional wounds,” she said. “It can also cause the students to feel fearful of future bullying so they tend to hold back more and avoid standing out. After experiencing bullying- or simply witnessing it, students may no longer feel comfortable expressing themselves.” Feelings experienced when bullied during teen years, a time when children begin to develop a stronger sense of identity, are often augmented.
“[This is] a critical age of socializing with others,” Estes said. “Adolescence is a vital time to engage in social activities and to become more independent. Since socializing is important during teen years, bully can be emotionally wounding and impact how they view the ‘safety’ of connecting with others.”
The key parents need to remember is that bullying can change their childrens lives completely. Or take their lives completely. Parents need to be engaged with their children. Some signs that may arise would be if you notice your child is acting more distant and quiet. Are they not wanting to go to school or are their grades dropping drastically? It is important for parents and teachers alike to see these warnings signs of a troubled teen. Many times the bullying goes on during lunch or before or after school, so the teachers may not be aware. All the more reason for them to notice any significant changes to their students demeanor, temper, and grades.
If you’re a parent talk to your child. Make it a normal routine to discuss with them how they are feeling and what are their issues at school. Avoid asking close-ended questions, such as “Is everything ok at school?” The typical answer to that will be “yeah.” Instead ask a question such as “What was the high point of your day today? What about your low point?” And then engage in a conversation with your child about this. This will start the communication lines going. Communicating with your children on a daily basis about their school friends and activities is crucial. And if there is something of concern, be sure to bring it up to the teacher and principal if necessary. Parents do not need to keep losing their beautiful children to suicide because they are being bullied at school.