It is estimated that in the year from April 2017 to March 2018, 17% of young people aged 10 to 15 in England were bullied in the previous 12 months in a way that made them frightened or upset. This is similar to the figure for previous years.
Bullying is a form of emotional and/or physical abuse which can have a devastating effect on an individual’s long-term mental health. Whether your child is being bullied right now or has been in the past, there are ways to help them cope with the psychological impact.
Don’t let them cope alone
Bullying is the main reason many children call helplines for assistance. In fact, 45% of people experience bullying before the age of 18, according to The Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying Campaign. Many people who have been (or are being) bullied feel alone. In a social circle, it can feel like there are no allies. Children are often afraid to speak out, but there may be signs that your child or someone else’s is being bullied. Maybe they are asking for more money for lunch if they have had theirs stolen. Perhaps they are becoming withdrawn from social media, or maybe they have made comments about a certain person. Children often ask for help subtly: look out for changes in behaviour and try to talk with them.
Help them understand it’s not their fault
Bullying has been studied intensively over the years. People who bully and abuse others often have insecurities they are not aware of. The hurt they feel is taken out on others. A 2010 study published in the journal Development Psychology suggested that some bullies can also be adept at manipulation, subtly bringing others down in social situations. People who are bullied as children often report symptoms of mental health disorders such as PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) later in life. The behaviour of bullies is often nothing to do with the person they target. Help your child or others to understand this, and they may be able to accept this later in life and try to repair any damage caused.
Take further action
A 2015 investigation showed that bullying by peers should be considered a significant risk factor and safeguarding issue. Suicide is not uncommon among children who are being bullied. No action taken by the school when bullying has been reported could be negligence. It is not uncommon to seek out a school bullying attorney to assist if the bullying goes too far and your child is injured or attempts to injure themselves as a result. Those who were made aware of the bullying but did not intervene can be held liable and have responsibility for your child’s safety.
Bullying is a very serious issue, and it can have a severe and lasting impact on mental health. If someone you know has become withdrawn or seems unhappy, don’t let them suffer in silence. Try talking to them. There are helplines and counsellors who may be able to assist with conversations that they may feel uncomfortable having with you.
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