Bullying is an unfortunate reality in our day and age, and the popularity of the Internet has actually exacerbated the problem by providing another way for bullies to victimize others.
According to statistics, children face a real risk of being on the receiving end of bullying, which occurs when a person or group subjects another person or group to ongoing harassment, intimidation, verbal or physical abuse, or exclusion. Consider the following:
- 28% of students in the U.S. between the grades of six and 12 experienced bullying
- 20% of students in the U.S. between the grades of nine and 12 experienced bullying
- 30% or so of youth acknowledge bullying others
- 6% of youth say that they’ve witnessed bullying at their schools
Link Between Bullying and Mental Issues
If that weren’t bad enough, studies have shown that there is a connection between being bullied and developing mental issues during childhood — mental issues like poor self-esteem, heightened risk for suicide, and depression.
Bullies tend to focus on those who are different, and it has been shown over the years that, unfortunately, children with autism are often easy targets for those doing the bullying. One study, as it turns out, finds that children who have autism are bullied close to five times more by their peers than are children who do not have autism spectrum disorders.
So how can we go about preventing bullying and depression in kids? What follows are some recommendations and suggestions for tackling this very issue.
Get Everyone Involved
When it comes to combating bullying and preventing the depression it can cause, the best bet is to get everyone involved — the school, school bus drivers, teachers, parents, and students. Parents can reach out to school administrators, talk to teachers, and insist that the school not only inform students and teachers about their rights and obligations as members of the institution but also spells out the consequences of violating anti-bullying policies. It is ultimately up to the school administration to ensure that the school environment is conducive to learning and growing, so parents need to hold these officials accountable.
Keep Line of Communication Open
First things first, parents need to know the signs that might suggest that their children are being bullied. So, there should be a red flag if, for instance, their children drag their feet about going to school, come home from school with ripped clothing, experience a lack of appetite, or even have nightmares. When parents see such signs, they need to have a two-way talk with their children to get them to open up about what might be going on. Parents can also help their children by instructing them on how to deal with bullies such as by ignoring them, exiting hostile situations, or reporting the matter to teachers. If parents notice signs of depression, they not only need to talk to their kids and the school but also need to seek guidance from their family doctor in the event that professional intervention is needed.
Consider Adding a Dog to the Family
While there are plenty of things that families need to consider before they introduce a dog into their home, the fact is that adding a four-legged bundle of energy into the mix can help bullied children to better deal with the trauma. But bringing home a dog is one thing — teaching your children how to properly interact the dog them is quite another. Parents must ensure that their children are old enough to realize that the family dog is a living creature deserving of respect and proper handling — and not one of their toys.
Yes, bullying is an unfortunate fact of life, and many children will find themselves on the receiving end of it at one point or another. However, parents who are on the ball can recognize signs of bullying and take the right measures to prevent bullying and depression.