October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and at COMPASSION IT, we encourage schools and parents to introduce compassion to prevent and curb bullying. Our reversible wristbands are an easy and tangible tool that make compassion accessible for all ages.
Bullying happens more often than we think. Have you ever had this thought – “I’m SURE my child won’t get bullied. And if she does, she’ll tell me about it”?
That’s exactly what I thought, until I received a surprising call from my daughter’s principal last week. He asked, “Did Hannah tell you what happened yesterday?” My response was, “Ummm…nooo…” The principal went on to explain that a boy had kicked Hannah during recess.
I was shocked. Our typical dinnertime routine is to share the best and worst parts of our days, and Hannah didn’t bring this up!
That was a single incident, which means it wasn’t bullying (read our post on what is and is not bullying). Nonetheless, I’m not so sure anymore whether or not Hannah would tell me if someone was bullying her. And in researching this topic, I’ve learned that many children and adolescents are unwilling to tell a parent or teacher that they’re getting bullied.
There are a variety of reasons why children won’t admit they’re getting bullied:
1 ) They don’t think adults can help.
2) They think the bullying children might harm them more.
3) They are ashamed.
4) They don’t want to be considered a tattletale.
So, to nip bullying in the bud, we need to open our eyes to these Signs of Bullying.
1 ) Torn or lost possessions – If your child’s clothing, jewelry, backpack, books, or electronics are damaged, be sure to kindly inquire about what happened.
2) Unexplained injuries – Do you see some bruises on your child? Or maybe scratches? When you ask “What happened?,” don’t be appeased by, “Nothing.” Gently dig deeper to see if there’s something that warrants concern.
3) Faking illness or frequent stomachaches or headaches – Is your child not interested in attending school anymore? Does she seem to have frequent headaches or stomachaches? You might want to find out if she is avoiding someone who hurts her (either physically or psychologically).
4) Changes in eating habits – Perhaps your child has lost his appetite or is binge eating. This may be a sign that something is wrong.
5) Difficulty sleeping or nightmares – Many of us have experience insomnia when we’re going through a stressful time, and our children may as well. If you notice that your child is unable to sleep, see if you can find out why.
6) Less interest in schoolwork, declining grades – If your straight-A student begins to drop the ball on homework and tests, try to keep your disappointment at bay and offer your child compassion. Perhaps she’s getting bullied and needs your help.
7) Loss of friends and/or avoidance of social interactions – If your once social teen is beginning to avoid parties or seems to have fewer friends, you can gently inquire about what’s happening at school (or in cyberspace).
8) Feelings of helplessness – Perhaps you’ve noticed a major mood shift in your child, and he seems unhappy. He doesn’t seem to care about much anymore. That is a warning sign that something is up.
9) Self-destructive behavior – If you child is running away from home, harming herself, or brings up suicide, you should contact the school and seek out a therapist to help. (Perhaps the school has a psychologist or counselor who can help.)
By cultivating awareness of our child’s behaviors and observing any changes, hopefully we can stop the bullying before it gets out of hand.
Case Study: Oglethorpe Point Elementary School in St. Simons Island, Ga., flipped the conversation on bullying. Read about how they made Compassion a priority after losing a kindergartner to cancer.
About Compassion It
Compassion It is a nonprofit whose mission is to spread compassion and inspire compassionate actions through workplace training, personal development training, tools, and content. We envision a world where compassion is practiced by every person, for every person, on every day.
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