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Don’t be a bystander if your child is a bully or being bullied

We meet a lot of people who we know were bullied at a young and impressionable age. Even though the passage of time blurs some of the memories, some scars remain nevertheless. They have a different take on life and certain situations. They often have trouble initiating conversations, building friendships, trusting people and generally struggle with social skills. Now imagine if unbeknown to you, your child is undergoing the same trauma and somehow hasn't been able to confide in you. It is a scary situation and is far more likely to happen than most parents care to admit.  In some studies, more than 1 in 5 school children admitted to bullying.
How would you know that your child is being bullied? Well, there are certain behavioral symptoms that form a pattern. Look for them as they indicate possibilities of your child being bullied.

  1. Marks of cuts, bruises or scrapes on the body that is unexplained.
  2. Frequent loss of stationery, toys, money or books that is again unexplained or seem mysterious.
  3. Child does not want to go to school or resists riding on the school bus.
  4. Change in behavior of the child such that he becomes clingy and does not want to be left alone. In short he is afraid.
  5. Avoids activities that involve peer participation.
  6. Behavior changes suddenly to become anxious, withdrawn, quiet, moody or depressed.
  7. Change in eating and sleeping habits. Frequent nightmares, loss of appetite, afraid of sleeping alone or bed-wetting are some symptoms.
  8. Drop in grades due to lack of concentration.
  9. Child is extremely hungry after getting back home. Controls bladder to use bathroom at home. Bullies often snatch lunch and wait at deserted places or places that are not supervised by adults, to victimize kids.
  10. Child starts bullying younger siblings at home and exercises temper at slightest provocation.

Most of the time parents miss out on identifying these symptoms. A lot of victims remain affected and chances are they will never tell you what’s been happening because of the following reasons:
  1. “I tried telling but mum never believed”
  2. “I feel embarrassed about it”
  3. “What’s the use of telling anyway, stuff that dad suggested never worked”
  4. “I don’t want to create a scene at school as my parents would just go and shout on the kid”
If you are not sure about what is happening then ask questions and get them to answer them by creating an environment of trust - do not interrogate. That approach never works!

Strangely enough, quite often the bullied become the bully. Extreme exposure to getting bullied tends to reverse roles of the victim and he becomes a perpetrator. Some signs of a bully are:
  1. Does not want to include certain kids while playing.
  2. Persists on keeping up with unacceptable behaviour even after several warnings.
  3. Is supremely concerned about gaining popularity.
  4. Hurts animals, like pelting stones at birds or squashing insects.
  5. Shows contempt for certain other kids or seems intolerant in general.

Bullying or getting bullied can become a habit if not checked early with consequences in their adult lives, both are just as worse as the other. Keep a keen watch and act when you notice something; as an adult being a mere bystander makes your more accountable than either the bully or the bullied!

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