Bullying can take many forms and is not limited to physical force. It can take place in the cyber and physical spheres and includes actions that can physically harm, emotionally hurt, intimidate or manipulate a person into doing what they don’t want to. A 2017 report stated that bullying in Pakistan is rapidly growing and it currently place 22 out of 25 countries for the highest rate of cyber-bullying.
Bullying in school is often ignored and the signs are sometimes difficult to pick up on. Furthermore, children are less likely to approach a problem head-on or complain about it. There are certain signs that you can however, pick up on that could potentially mean that your child is being bullied.
Unexplained headaches, stomach aches or other complaints
Waking up with any ailment that doesn’t have an explanation- and seems to happen frequently maybe a red flag. It isn’t that your child is making up illnesses but keep in mind that anxiety manifests itself in many ways- anxiety could be a legitimate cause of a stomach ache in children, they just don’t know how to explain it.
Reluctance in going to school
Where a once happy child was super eager to go to school, he/she is now reluctant or not as excited for school- it may be time to ask questions. Ask teachers if he is acting differently, check for other behaviors that are unlike him and may be due to bullying in school.
Answers to questions don’t add up or if he/she avoids answering certain things
If your child is giving you answers that don’t add up or answers simple questions like ‘did you have fun in school today?’ with vagueness or disinterest, it may be a sign of concern. Although, many children do not tend to answer questions and it does not indicate bullying. Lack of coherence and connectivity in stories is more of a red flag.
Lack of interest in social activities/ lesser friends
All of a sudden your child is not going to birthday parties, or is not interested in play dates. He/she may not want to attend extra-curricular activities and seems to have lesser friends than before. If they’re spending more time on cyber-activities or at home instead of playing, then it may be tell-tale sign on bullying.
Fear- seems more attached to family members
Usually children will turn to family members for comfort and acceptance. If your child seems more attached (more than normal) to you/ or other family members, it may be coming from a place of fear. Requests previously uncommon like ‘I want mom to drop me all the way to class’ or ‘can you stay throughout my football session’- could be a sign of worry.
Bullying is something that requires early intervention and a collaboration between the school and the parents to effectively manage. If you feel that your child is being bullied, do not hesitate to ask the class teachers to keep a more vigilant eye on your child and his behavior.