I remember my primary school days clearly. I remember being a victim of bullying. There was this girl, let’s just call her Xena,the warrior
princess. She was nothing like a princess. She was the tallest girl in our class and I remember her body looking toned like Xena. All she did was come during lunch hours, take my boiled egg and eat it,leaving me with bare Jollof rice(That’s witchcraft!). She did it twice and I reported to our teacher ‘cos no one messes with my eggs.*Pun intended. Then she stopped.
Second incident, was from my ‘friend’. Let’s call her, Shaniqua. She seemed to be the leader of our clique. Don’t know why, probably because she was sharp tongued. One day, she made some noise while the Headmistress was in our class and the Headmistress asked who was responsible for that. The headmistress pointed at one of our friends who was a new girl to speak up, and the new girl told her ,it was Shaniqua. She was called to the Headmistress office, when she got back, she threatened the girl who told on her. During the lunch break, she told the girl not to hang out with us. Went to our class, brought the girl’s books out and started scribbling on, rumpling and mishandling them in the new girl’s absence. Shaniqua asked me to join in and I refused. Na so I buy market o. She threatened to deal with me after school. Here’s me, that has never been in a fight before. I feared for my life. LOL. I thought fast. I just pulled out a lovely, fancy 2A exercise book of mine and asked Shaniqua, “Do you want?”. That was it. The game-changer! She took it excitedly and forgot about our after-school fight. No be today I start to be diplomat. You are looking at the future Minister for Foreign affairs. LOL.
Bullying is an intentional, aggressive and repeated behavior that involves an imbalance of power or strength.
It can take several forms:
- Physical (hitting, punching, beating)
- Verbal (teasing, name calling, threats)
- Emotional (intimidation using gestures, social exclusion, threats)
- Racist Bullying
- Cyberbullying (Online harassment, hate messages, threats, impersonation, and other digital abuse)
- Hazing (Torture and humiliation done on newbies as form of initiation)
Do you know there are worse stories than my personal story I just narrated? No Parent would like their child to be a victim of bullying. But how would a parent know, if they don’t tell you? Most times, victims are afraid to tell parents because they feel their Parents’ response to the situation, will even do more harm than good. Victims might see themselves weak for not trying to handle things themselves. This is not peculiar to primary school levels. It happens on all levels, even past the age of 18. You as a Parent, need to channel in your telepathic powers and watch your child intently.
Here are possible warnings that a child may be bullied and needs your support. Of course, these signs could indicate other problems. Every child is different and any child can have an “off” day, so look instead of a pattern of behavior that is not typical for your child. Here are some signs:
1. Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises and scrapes
2. Unexplained loss of toys, school supplies, clothing, lunches, or money
3. Clothes, toys, books, electronic items are damaged or missing or child reports mysteriously “losing” possessions
4. Doesn’t want to go to school or other activities with peers
5. Afraid of riding the school bus
6. Afraid to be left alone: wants you there at dismissal, suddenly clingy
7. Suddenly sullen, withdrawn, evasive; remarks about feeling lonely
8. Marked change in typical behavior or personality
9. Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed and that mood lasts with no known cause
10. Physical complaints; headaches, stomachaches, frequent visits the school nurse’s office
11. Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, cries self to sleep, bed wetting
12. Change in eating habits
13. Begins bullying siblings or younger kids. (Bullied children can sometimes flip their role and become the bully.)
14. Waits to get home to use the bathroom. (School and park bathrooms, because they are often not adult-supervised, can be hot spots for bullying).
15. Suddenly has fewer friends or doesn’t want to be with the “regular group”
16. Ravenous when he comes home. (Bullies can use extortion stealing a victim’s lunch money or lunch.)
17. Sudden and significant drop in grades. (Bullying can cause a child to have difficulty focusing and concentrating.)
18. Blames self for problems; feels “not good enough”
19. Talks about feeling helpless or about suicide; runs away.
As a parent, instead of asking them directly if they are being bullied. That could make them lock up for fear of your response if they admitted to it. Sometimes their close friends are in a better position to tell the truth than your child is willing. So while you are on that some subtle questions could be:
“You’re always hungry: have you been eating your lunch?”
“Your books are missing? Did someone take them?”
“Your jacket is ripped. Did someone do that to you?”
“Do you have any special friends at school this year? Who are they? Who do you hang out with?”
“Who do you sit with at lunch and on the bus?”
“Are there any kids at school who you really don’t like? Why don’t you like them? Do they ever pick on you or leave you out of things?”
If your kids or teens are being bullied do not over-react (I know I could. Typing this and thinking about my daughter ever being in such situation, is making me type faster in anger).I have no chill when it comes to standing up for my child. But it’s best You/I just chill. Assure your kids that you love them and you will help them. Let them know they can talk to you about anything. Talk with your child’s/ward’s school. Call or set up an appointment to talk with their teacher. Teachers are likely in the best position to understand the relationships between your child and other peers in their school.
In cases where your child is actually the bully, appropriate disciplinary measures MUST be carried out and stern real talk should be given to your child. Make them apologize sincerely to their victims.
Bullying is a silent growing epidemic. Never let your child be silent about it.
photo credit: getty images
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