Bullying in schools is becoming a threat that no parent, guardian, or even school can ignore. The recent controversial death of the 12-year-old student of Dowen College, Sylvester Oromoni, has called the attention of many to this thing called bullying. It was gathered that the deceased was allegedly bullied and assaulted by cultists for his refusal to join the fraternity and he died from injuries sustained.
When an individual uses violence, coercion, hurtful teasing or threats, to abuse, dominate or intimidate, over a period of time, that is bullying. It can take many forms and take place at varying degrees, including verbal, emotional, physical, cyber, social, prejudicial, and even sexual. Asides from the apparent harm inflicted on the victims, the families and associates of the victims also have a share of the detrimental effects of those who have been bullied.
Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center has given some signs parents can watch out for to determine if their wards are being bullied.
Below are ten signs that indicate that a child is being bullied
1. Unexplained scratches and bruises
Scratches and bruises are almost inevitable when kids have fun at the playground. But if you ask them about the injuries and they say they can’t remember or the answer changes, or if the response simply doesn’t explain how the injury occurred, this may be a sign that the child is being pushed around physically, according to Hertzog.
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2. Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
Damaging someone’s belongings is a form of bullying, Hertzog said. Oddly torn, ruined, or stolen clothes or other belongings are common signs of playground bullying. Similar to the unexplained bruises, when asked about what happened, the child usually doesn’t want to talk about it or can’t explain it.
3. Faking illness
Very often kids fake aches and pains so they don’t have to go to school, Hertzog said. “Or maybe they just don’t want to get on the bus to school.” If this happens once or twice, the child may just feel like not going to school — who hasn’t had such moments? — but if it happens in a pattern and often, there is probably a legitimate reason for not wanting to be in school, Hertzog added.
4. Feeling sick
A child may be faking illness as an excuse not to go to school but he or she may also actually be sick. It’s not uncommon for traumatized children to exhibit physical symptoms of anxiety, according to Hertzog. Often those are stomach and headaches, she noted.
5. Sudden changes in eating habits
Changes in eating habits are a real sign, according to Ellis. “When depressed, some people binge eat. Others don’t pay attention to food because they are so depressed.”
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6. Frequent nightmares
Bullying is an emotional trauma, Hertzog said. Knowing he or she has to go to school in the morning, a child may be nervous. This can result in trouble falling asleep, waking up frequently, or even nightmares. Being tired in the morning may be a sign that the child is having trouble sleeping.
Self-harm is not an uncommon response to bullying, Hertzog said. It’s a very private way of dealing with emotional pain, she added. Other self-destructive behaviors may include talking about hurting themselves. Research shows that children who have been victims of bullying in elementary school are almost five times more likely to engage in self-harm when they are teenagers.
8. Being afraid to go to school
A child who is bullied may seem afraid to go to school, walk to school by themselves, or ride the school bus. This is true even if the child is bullied online. Some kids who bully spread rumors aiming to embarrass another child.
9. Becoming aggressive
Bullied children sometimes lash out. Acting out against siblings or parents is not an uncommon response in kids who are bullied. Research by Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York found that victims of physical bullying were four times more likely to act aggressively, and victims of cyberbullying were 10 times more likely than children who have not experienced bullying.
10. Asking for extra lunch money
A child may come home hungry because a bully is stealing their food or lunch money. He or she may ask for extra cash to buy lunch or for extra food for lunch.
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