It is popular belief that bully victims lead a life riddled with loneliness and emotional abuse. But when two Minnesota eighth graders, Hayley Fentress and Paige Moreover, took their lives in a bullying related pact a few years back, many wondered who the two girls had for support? Why did they take such a drastic step? How to help bullied kids?
Even though these girls were not alone but they probably didn’t have any guidance from their support system: their family. Back in our days, bullying was a nudge, a shove or in more extreme cases a punch or two. We came home from school and it was all forgiven and forgotten. Things have changed drastically over the past couple of decades. The social media barely leaves children alone.
Understanding The Dynamics Of Bullying
There are two types of bully victims. First, the ‘overt victims’. These are the kids who are bullied in very obvious ways. They are teased, taunted, verbally or physically abused and excluded intentionally and aggressively. Then there are the ‘invisible students’. This is the kid who doesn’t think he or she exists. He is intentionally excluded but does not feel like he fits in with other students. He moves around the school feeling like he is a ghost. These invisible students can suffer from more damaging effects in the long run than overt victims. Kids who are excluded end up feeling guilty and blame themselves for the situation.
How To Handle Bullying?
Some signs are very obvious and you are going to expect them. Others are going to surprise if not shock you.
· Does your kid lash out at the least provocation?
· Does your child overreact to people or situations that wouldn’t have bothered him or her before?
· Are they faking illness to avoid going to school?
· Are they constantly depressed and stressed out?
· Do they try extreme make-overs?
· Are they always sad, lonely and unmotivated?
· Are their grades taking a downward plunge?
· Are they moody and distracted?
What Should Parents Do?
When they discover that their child is being bullied, parents usually contact the school, confront the parents of the bullies, push for punishment of the bullies, talk to the police, retain legal counsel but they forget that their child is bleeding emotionally and spiritually. They are lonely and isolated and they need you to be there for them.
The suicide of Haylee and Paige has taught us that a child may have a best friend but it does not make them immune to bullying. If you suspect your child and her buddy are struggling to fit in with their peers, intervene. You might end up saving lives.