It’s that time of year again; it’s time to head back to school. And while many kids are thrilled to get back into the swing of things, there are quite a few that are dreading the upcoming school year; sadly my oldest daughter is one of the thousands of children who are apprehensive to return to class – she’s nine years old. Toward the end of the last school year my little one had the awful experience of becoming the victim of bullying, and it destroyed her self-esteem and confidence. She would cry every day after school while telling me what happened that day. In the mornings before school she would become nauseous and filled with anxiety, terrified about what kind of torment she would face that day.
It would make sense that in a world where we have been flooded with an overwhelming number of stories of young people taking their own lives because one of the factors was that they were the victims of bullying, school administrators would be doing more to help their students, but sadly too many of our kids fall through the cracks.
In my daughter’s situation, I ended up having to take matters into my own hands with the school administrators. On every window in my daughter’s school is a sign that reads this is a Bully Free Zone. When I walked into the office and explained what had been happening, they gave me their standard speech, “We have a zero tolerance for on site bullying.” That was it; nothing else was done. Even though my child was nauseous and riddled with anxiety every single morning before school, the administrators told me that their hands were tied. When my child came home in tears every single afternoon because of the victimization she endured, the principal finally pulled the kids into her office. They were told not to bully and then sent back to class. This resulted in an awful anonymous note being left in my child’s desk. It got so bad that I found a journal she had written. I took it to the school and showed the teacher. It read, “What is wrong with me? Why do they hate me? I want to go away. I’m a horrible person.” The teacher asked me if she had threatened to hurt herself and with tears streaming down my face I replied, “not yet.” The principal asked me if I wouldn’t mind a social worker coming in to talk to my child, gratefully I accepted the offer and waited for the call; it never came. School was set to end in a week.
I took my child to see a counselor and we have worked so hard to rebuild her confidence and self-esteem. What amazes me now is that a school district is authorized to bring in a worker to talk with children who display depression but not children who display aggressive or bullying behaviors. Am I the only one that finds this hard to stomach? Why are the administrators not working with the children who are bullying others?
The Effects of Bullying on Mental Health
The Victims of bullying can experience
- A loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Low self-esteem
- A higher risk of self-harm
- A higher risk of self-medication
The Witnesses of bullying can experience
- Pressure to keep quiet or join in
- Guilt for not attempting to stop what they see
- A higher risk of self-medicating
The Ones who are bullying others can experience
- An increased risk of becoming abusive to others in later years
- A higher risk of self-medication
- Anxiety disorder
- Anti-social behavior
- A higher rate of criminal offences
Every year we have a Pink Shirt Day in our schools, and I love the idea of it. On the surface it looks great, but until our schools are ready to implement actual anti-bullying curriculum, we have a very long way to go.
My own daughter started to become withdrawn and more and more introverted. I ended up taking her to a psychologist as her entire beautiful personality had changed so much. I am pleased to say that we have spent the past two months rebuilding her confidence and self-esteem. She no longer believes that what those bullies told her is true. Her self worth is so much higher because we didn’t take the stance that, “kids will be kids.” Kids can be cruel and awful, and ignoring that or accepting that is doing nothing but harm.
I encourage you all to check out this incredible website Bullying Statistics. Not only does it have some helpful tools and resources, but it also explains how to address issues if you find out that your own child has been bullying others. We have enough to worry about with online bullying, our children shouldn’t have to be afraid to go to school. Talk to your kids, let them know it’s okay to open up. It’s rough being a kid, and when you’re being tormented, it’s downright scary. It’s time to be an advocate for our children, those being bullied and those doing the bullying.