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What else kids are learning in school

Published in Behavioral Health Services, For the Health of It Author: Shawn Franklin, MSN, BSN, RN

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” We know words can hurt — especially at a young age. Statistics show that about one in four kids in the U.S. are bullied on a regular basis.

Bullying can be:

  • Verbal — name-calling and threats
  • Social — spreading rumors or public embarrassment
  • Physical — hurting the victim’s body or damaging possessions

Bullying has recently become more pervasive and difficult for victims to escape through the emergence of cyberbullying, which takes place electronically and follows children home.

Children who are bullied are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and other health complaints — even into adulthood. They also are more likely to miss or drop out of school and see their GPA and test scores drop. In rare cases, bullied children have been known to react violently.

But bullying doesn’t just affect the child being bullied; children who bully are at a higher risk of engaging in violent and self-destructive behavior through adolescence and into adulthood. They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, start sexual activity earlier, be convicted of criminal activity, and be abusive toward partners and children as adults.

Signs that your child may be a victim of bullying include:

  • Frequent or unexplained injuries
  • Lost or damaged property
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Faking illness or frequent headaches or stomachaches
  • Drop in academic achievement
  • Sudden avoidance of friends or social situations

In addition to modeling kindness and respect and maintaining open communication with your child, help him or her to understand what bullying looks like and how to react when it happens. 

Consider discussing these strategies to help keep your children happy and safe:

  • Encourage children to stay near adults or in a group of friends.
  • Encourage children to report bullying to a trusted adult.
  • Discuss how to safely stand up to bullies by using humor, clearly and confidently saying “Stop,” and walking away from the situation if these strategies do not work.
  • Encourage children to get help or show kindness when they see another child being bullied.
  • Report to police or school authorities if bullying has escalated and is endangering your child.