David Arabie, LPC
The medical community often talks about the “silent killers” of Americans. Hypertension, Heart Disease, Cancer, and Diabetes. Each effect thousands every year, despite public service announcements about these “silent killers” flashing across television screens and adorning pamphlet racks of doctor’s offices, all in a desperate attempt to educate people on these costly, and consequently, deadly medical conditions.
As a therapist, I believe there is a “silent killer” that is targeting students in every school, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or geographic location. It is not the fear of missed assignments, the anxiety associated with virtual learning, or the spread of COVID-19. It is the devastating and often neglected issue of bullying. The fear of being bullied, the repercussions directly resulting from bullying, and the sometime fatal outcome from fear that there is no other alternative but to end one’s life to rid oneself of the shame and embarrassment of being bullying that is attacking children daily.
Bullying often goes unnoticed and unspoken. Kids do not want to admit it is happening to them, and often we as parents are so consumed with managing life that we miss the silent signs and symptoms of bullying. So, what can we, as parents, do to increase our awareness and help our child who may be experiencing bullying? What warning signs can we look for and what tools can we equip our child with to guard against bullying?
Look for physical signs of bullying such as unexplained bruises, cuts, or scratches. Watch for torn or damaged clothing, books, or backpacks. Changes in appetite: either eating a lot right after coming home or eating very little, may be a sign of bullying. Difficulty sleeping, especially on nights before a school day, may be a warning sign. Additionally, look for emotional signs such as anxiety, depression, or feeling afraid to go to school. Lastly, listen to them. If they are trying to come up with physical or emotional excuses to avoid school, this could be a sign there is a problem.
One of the best thing parents can do to help their child not be the target of bullying is to nurture and develop a sense of confidence within the child. A child who projects an aura of confidence, shows and exudes leadership amongst their peers, I believe, is less likely to experience the wrath of a bully. It would be difficult for a bully to change the mindset of a child who firmly embraces the proclamation, “I am somebody!”
As parents, we need to educate ourselves to truly understand what bullying is, and most importantly, know how to help our child if they become the victim of bullying. “Not my child” can either be a mantra of a successful, cooperative plan to combat bullying, or the emotional cry of a parent who experienced the emotional devastation of losing a child to suicide because of it. Knowledge is indeed power.
We at Chambers Health strive to continue our tradition of being “What You Need, Where You Are”, and we look forward to serving the health and wellness needs of our communities by providing the best care possible.