Bullying is Abuse, They’re Not Just Being Kids
Many children experience bullying of some sort during their childhood and experience the emotional confusion that comes with it. When a child who is bigger, stronger, or older picks on a smaller, weaker, or younger child for whatever reason, the bully has chosen to act inappropriately and should be confronted and punished for that behavior. Kids who bully other kids are not just being kids, they’re being abusive. But often the abused child suffers in silence, afraid to tell anyone of their troubles. So how can we know when our child is being abused by another?
Your child may exhibit warning signs like not wanting to go certain places or be with certain people, being sad, having headaches or stomachaches, not sleeping or eating normally, crying and withdrawing from others. If your child has experienced some of these symptoms, you should ask whether or not they’ve been bullied or abused in any way. If asked directly, often the child will admit to having had trouble of some sort. If the child says no, let them know that they can always come to you later if a problem arises that they need to talk about.
Whatever the response from your child, you can talk about the issue of bullying in a general way. Let the child know that there are things that they can do to stop a bully from inappropriate actions. The first thing they should try is telling the bully to stop or say no to the bully. If this doesn’t work, then they can tell the bully that they will tell an adult if the behavior doesn’t stop, and make sure the child follows through with the threat. Silence always perpetuates abuse. The child needs to walk or run away if they feel threatened with any physical harm. Fighting back is never a good answer to the bully dilemma, but usually only exacerbates the problem by getting themselves into trouble, especially if it’s at school.
Teach your child to avoid being alone in any known unsafe areas either at school or in the community. Encourage your child to develop good friendships so that they won’t be alone in an unsafe place. Make sure your child exhibits self-confidence as bullies are more likely to attack those who appear to be weak and afraid.
Bullying is not just physical abuse, but can include verbal, sexual, and or emotional abuse, as well. Cyber-bullying and Text-bullying is very common as well. Most states have laws in place against bullying behaviors and can put a bully in the juvenile justice system for infractions. If your child is being abused, tell them to report it to a trusted adult as soon as possible and then report it yourself to the proper authorities as soon as you know of it.
Bullies have often been bullied themselves by others, sometimes even by their own parents. Parents should discipline consistently without being abusive in any way. Spanking within reason is not abusive. Leaving bruises and belittling or cursing a child is abusive. If your child is doing the bullying, think about whether someone is being too harsh or too permissive where they are concerned. Family counseling may be in order.
If your child has been bullied and is having a hard time dealing with it, they may need to see a counselor. Psalm 7:1 gives us a clear picture of what abusive behaviors do to us emotionally. Oh Yahweh my God, in You I put my trust: free me and save me from all those that abuse me, in case they tear my soul like a lion, ripping it in pieces, while there’s no one to save me.Often when the child has been hurt and there was no one to save them, they need the emotional support of others to help them heal. Be there for your child and get them the help that they need to overcome any hurts and anxieties they may have.