Bullying is a form of emotional/verbal/psychological abuse that can affect people of any age. Often harder to prove due to lack of physical evidence, the fact remains that victims can be seriously damaged for life. Regardless of the person’s age, the following illustrations will hopefully emphasize the need for increased media exposure regarding this topic.
Children are vulnerable and unable to defend themselves so often. Lightly supervised or unsupervised playgrounds in neighborhoods, schools, and recreation facilities are common breeding grounds for bullies to flourish. Mark is a 6-year-old boy who is currently in therapy with a child psychologist due to being bullied on his school playground. His specific bullying was comprised of being hit, knocked down, and called names. Mark had a hard time believing another kid would treat him or anyone else this way. A sensitive, thoughtful child he was traumatized to the point of being mute for 24 hours. He does not want to return to first grade for fear of being talked about and bullied again. Initially, Mark could not share with his therapist without tears and nausea. Having worked through that aspect, they are now working on his loss of normalcy and the resultant depression and anxiety. It will take time, support from friends and family, and commitment to therapy for Mark to recover from his bullying experience.
Those accomplished in this field find the following warning signs prevalent in elementary school children:
- Suddenly, he or she does not want to go to school and does not want to talk about it
- Child complains of not feeling well before school or you receive calls from the school nurse saying you need to pick up your child due to illness when there is no apparent physical reason present
- He or she is frightened of walking to or from school and does not want to ride the school bus—they may beg to be driven
- Child becomes more disruptive and aggressive at home and may start bullying siblings/other children
- He or she comes home with dirty or torn clothes unexplained cuts and bruises or damaged possessions
- Child becomes jumpy and seems to startle easily
- Child begins to stammer
If your child or someone you know has a child exhibiting these warning signs it does not mean that they are definitely being bullied; however, it does indicate the need to look further into what is going on in the child’s life. Too many parents are complacent and/or deny the symptoms of bullying. Even children as young as eight years old have committed suicide due to being bullied in elementary school.
In middle school, high school, and college with the higher ownership of mobile phones and computers, cyberbullying increases. Some of the signs of having been bullied in this age group include the following:
- Skipping school
- A sudden drop in grades
- Being upset after using of computer or mobile phone
- Change in the usual routine
- Stop bringing friends home and do not spend time at classmate’s homes
- Seem to suddenly start “losing things” or has possessions end up “missing”
- Substance abuse
- Does not have a good friend to talk to or go to social events with
Unfortunately, bullying has no end, no age limit. Tim Field, a British expert in the computer industry, suffered such extreme bullying in the workplace that he had a complete breakdown. After he recovered, he wrote the book Bully in Sight. Tim stated, “Most organizations have a serial bully. It never ceases to amaze me how one person’s divisive dysfunctional behavior can permeate the entire organization like cancer.”