Most of us, at some point in time while bringing up children, start living on the extremes of either becoming paranoid hawks or believing that we are living in a fool’s paradise. This extreme statement is a result of the increasing number of instances of children that I see being bullied by their peers and about the various instances that we often keep reading about cyber bullying. We either feel that our child can never do anything wrong and the fault is always someone else’s, or we believe that nothing wrong could ever happen to us.
Most of the school going kids that have instant access to the cyber world, are increasingly spending time in the virtual world as compared to the tangible world where one has to interact with people and learn to deal with other people’s emotions. The increasing intolerance and instant gratification, exposure to endless possibilities and the ability to control everything through the click of a button perhaps is making kids impatient and the ever increasing divide in classes is fanning the frustration, anxiety and aggression bottled up in adolescents, leading to increasing instances of bullying. Everyone is wanting to ‘show’ how they are superior than the other.
Statistics reveal that 77-83% of all school going kids get bullied at least once in their lifetime. What is more alarming is that the effects of being bullied can, in most cases be seen in the lives and behavior of victims well into their 30s. Bullying produces strong emotions of fear, shame, embarrassment and guilt in the victim. Bullies, in most cases, use threats to keep their victims quiet, in exactly the same way that abusers (including child sex abusers) silence their targets. When we leave school , we carry those experiences with ourselves thus affecting our interaction with people and our reaction to various relationships.
It is therefore very important for parents to notice the signs of their children being bullied:
Unexpected changes in behavior, sleep or eating patterns, avoidance of situations, unexplained injuries, nightmares, frequent faking of sickness in order to avoid interaction with peers, declining grades, avoidance of school, sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations, decreased self esteem, feelings of helplessness, self destructive behavior, frequent losing or misplacing things.
It is important to let our kids know that we care and that they can fall back upon us for anything. Have a dialogue and do not judge, Sometimes, they just want someone to understand what they are going through. Be there for them.