School bullying is becoming an epidemic in America. Throughout their academic life, over 60 percent of our nation’s children are the victims of a bully. They’re the target of words such as fat, four-eyes, ugly, retard and much — MUCH worse. However, I have to believe all the school bullies did not choose this behavior; much of it starts at home and continues to go uncorrected by the parents. Parents model behavior for their children; what parents do, they will repeat – unless taught otherwise.
A shocking 160,000 children stay home throughout the school year because of a bully’s violence or threats by the bullies that taunt and torture them. The children feel helpless and alone; when they manage to tell adults, they don’t intervene to stop the suffering. Many more have taken their own lives because they believe that is a better solution, but how can we stop a runaway train that has jumped the tracks? Can our children be saved?
1. Child has unexplained injuries
A shocking 282,000 children in America are attacked by bullies in secondary schools each month. How could this happen? This is an alarming statistic when most school districts have an anti-bullying program in their school district. However, this program is useless if school officials don’t take the necessary actions to stop these troubled children from hurting others.
When adults supervising the children look the other way, it puts children at risk. In fact, 32 percent of parents polled fear for their child’s safety while they are at school. However, what’s shocking is that 25% of the teachers in our children’s classrooms don’t see any problem with school bullies; in fact, only 4% of these teachers intervene when there is a problem between students. Something has to be done — these children that bully are crying out for help.
2. Child may receive cyberthreats or text messages from bullies
We can’t deny it any longer; our children have cell phones, Facebook accounts and instant message screen names. Forty-three percent of children ages 13-17 have said they have been the victim of cyberbullying, where they received threats to physical harm. Many cyberbullies have reported they cyberbully because it gives them an opportunity to embarrass their victim and be mean. In fact, 42 percent of children have been bullied online, and 1 in 4 of these children have had it happen more than once.
Furthermore, 58 percent of these bullies have reported their victim deserved the emotional, mental and/or verbal abuse. An alarming 81 percent of cyberbullies admit that bullying their victim online is easier to get away with than in person, and perhaps it is because the victim is more likely to keep it to themselves. How can you stop this? Monitor who your child talks to online and through text messages. Tight internet security will not allow these instant messages to come through on the computer and tight social network settings can block these individuals from being cruel.
3. Child comes home missing belongings, or belongings are damaged
Many school bullies aren’t satisfied with intimidating and embarrassing their victim. When necessary, the bully will use their physical strength to take items which do not belong to them. Fifty-five percent of victims of bullies have reported being hit, slapped or pushed. When a child is punched or shoved up against a locker, it leaves some children seeking revenge for their bullies. Furthermore, they may threaten the victim with violence in order to get these items. These may be expensive items such as mp3 players, cell phones or a nice piece of clothing. In fact, on average around 8 percent of children are injured by a weapon while bullied on school grounds each year. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Education reports that nearly 3 million thefts occur around school grounds each year.
4. Child cries or is depressed more than usual
The depression may be a direct link to all the other warning signs your child has portrayed. They feel withdrawn and want to avoid going to any school event, or they don’t want to go school. In fact, this may be the only warning sign bullies and their victims may have in common. According to a 2001 study by the Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention, bullies and their victims both express loneliness, poor academic grades and trouble meeting and keeping friends. Furthermore, they may both be more vulnerable to start drinking and smoking at an earlier age.
5. Child is hungry from not eating lunch at school
If your child comes home missing their lunch bag or they complain to be starving, there may be an issue with a bully at school. The child who is bullying may use their physical strength to get a more desirable dessert or snack from the other child’s lunch. In fact, it has been reported that most violence by school bullies occurs on school grounds where adult supervision is limited. These are areas such as school cafeterias, bathrooms and playgrounds where the bully can gain up on the victim with other students or attack them privately. Often times, children are the only witnesses to the bullying with no intervention from adults. In fact, 85 percent of the time a child is bullied, there is nobody else around.
6. Child loses appetite
Fat. Anorexic. Blubber. They’re just words, but when a bully shouts them at a victim and then laughs, it can be devastating to the victim’s self-esteem. The bully may take it a step further and throw the victim’s lunch tray on the floor or spill their drink over their victim’s clothes. In fact, 77 percent of these children are bullied physically, mentally and verbally on an annual basis. The more humiliation the bully causes the victim, the more power the bully has — which is why the teachers and administration need to step in to bring an end to this unnecessary violence.
7. Child has irregular sleeping patterns & bad dreams
When a child is bullied, they may be involved in fights at school. These fights go further than physical violence, however, and many may involve weapons. In fact, 1 out of 20 children in the school system have seen a child bring a gun to school. An alarming 100,000 children carry a gun to school; some of these children may be victims of bullies and are trying to protect themselves. Furthermore, 61 percent of students in the school system agree that a child is more likely to shoot others if they are abused at home. The victim of the bullying may not be able to release the fear when they fall asleep at night, but they might fear more bullying if they tell an adult.
8. Child has become more aggressive
A happy child that has become irritable and aggressive is a big red flag to most parents. They have to be aggressive if they are to defend themselves against those who attack them. Furthermore, this may be why 39 of middle schoolers reported they do not feel safe at their school. An alarming 66 percent of students are teased once a month, and 1/3 of those students are bullied within that same month. It’s shocking that 3.2 million children are victims of bullies every year; bullies, being slightly higher, are reported to be 3.7 million children.
9. Child shows signs of hurting themselves
Any child who is depressed and hurts themself should be a red flag to their parents. Around 58 percent of children who are bullied report having had slanderous rumors made behind their back, to their face and over the internet. When they haven’t anywhere else to go, they look for an outlet to release the pain. They may start smoking or drinking early or much worse. This could be an effort from the victim for the bully to leave them alone, but it should not be ignored.
10. Child speaks of or commits suicide
A child deserves a safe place at home and at school. However, this is not realistic for every child in America. Suicide as a result to bullying is the third highest cause of death among children and young adults. Sadly, this has resulted in 4,400 deaths of this age group per year. It’s tragic when a child has to commit suicide to be noticed by their parents and school district. Most of the 19,000 bullied children that attempt suicide each year never report it to administrators or teachers at the school.