Recently, the potential outcomes from bullying was described in the popular series “13 Reasons Why”. The series dramatized all the possible worse case scenarios from bullying: suicide, the creation of a potential mass shooter and some horrific examples of bullying (I won’t describe in here).
Graphic, horrible, sensational! I am not saying that this type of bullying and the outcomes from bullying do not happen. We know it does. We know that kids who have committed suicide and some mass shooters have a history of being bullied. But, or course, we know that many kids who have been bullied, do not resort to these actions.
However, research shows that bullying can cause lasting trauma and the effects that trauma can have on an individual: physically and emotionally. Here is a short-list of effects.
- Depression and anxiety
- Self-esteem and body image issues.
- Sleep disorders and body-oriented symptoms such as chronic pain, headaches and digestive issues.
- Victimizing others/criminal activity
- Academic struggles.
Bullying typically occurs between kids who have more perceived power: are older or more popular against a lower status kid. The behaviors towards the kid occur over time and create a toxic environment of fear, harassment, exclusion for the child who is being abused.
And kids are really, really good at hiding the bullying behaviors, so teachers, school officials, parents don’t realize it is happening. With cyberbullying, the anonymity makes bullying easier to do and to keep underground.
Why Do Kids Bully?
Kids who bully, do so for a reason. As is my philosophy, behaviors are information—no matter how destructive.
- They are being bullied at home or in other places. Victims can turn into bullies.
- They are insecure about their status and feel the need to put down other kids to establish their place among their friend-group or their age-group.
- They have witnessed violence, bullying within their environment and have learned that is what they need to do to get what they want.
- Inconsistent follow through on rules and consequences at home.
- Giving one’s child too much power in the household.
Parents often do not realize that their child is acting this way. How bullying is treated is dealt with differently from school to school. And kids who are being bullied often do not confide in their parents and if they do, the bullying does not get dealt with effectively or even at all.
True bullying needs an intervention. Having your child “ignore” or “laugh it off” is not going to get it done. Standing up for oneself or ignoring are great strategies when there it is a single incident—a mean comment—or once in awhile teasing from another child. But that is not bullying.
Bullying needs a holistic approach: not only protection for the child who is being bullied but compassion and natural consequences for the perpetrators as well as creating a culture of zero tolerance, collaboration and inclusiveness within schools and other settings. This attitude definitely needs to begin at home.
I have heard from many parents that their kids are or have been bullied.
How are you teaching your child inclusiveness and compassion? And how are you handling the situation if your child has been bullied?
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to talk about concerns for your child and your family. Click here to grab a spot on my schedule for a free strategy call.
Please join my Free Facebook Group: Raising Empowered Tweens and Teens for the 21st Century by click here.
Sharon Burris-Brown is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach who has helped hundreds of parents release their stress, become more present and mindful parents so they can become their kids’ #1 best teacher.