Trauma doesn’t have to come in the form of a bloody accident or life-threatening attack. In fact, many of our own children are experiencing the type of violence that can lead to PTSD on a daily basis.
Bullying is a real problem. Between 25% and 33% of young people experience bullying, especially while they are in middle school. This can include verbal teasing, rumors being spread about them, being excluded from a group, having other kids gang up on them, cyberbullying, and, of course, physical violence.
Some adults hear about bullying and think, “What’s the big deal? Kids have always teased and run around in cliques. They’ve always gotten into scuffles. What’s so wrong with that?”
The answer is: a lot. This type of bullying, while often pawned off as just kids being kids, is actually extremely detrimental to children’s mental health – including both the child being bullied and the one doing the bullying.
Children who are bullied have higher levels of depression and anxiety. They have higher feelings of loneliness and sadness. They may struggle with changes in sleep patterns and eating habits. You may notice that many of these symptoms sound familiar. Children who face harsh or ongoing bullying begin to suffer from PTSD or become more susceptible to getting PTSD later in life. The symptoms they show while being bullied as a child can persist throughout their lives into adulthood, and their learning is affected too. Victims of bullying have lower grades, less school participation, and are more likely to skip and drop out of school.
While the victims of bullying suffer the most and are the innocent ones, the bullies themselves are hurt by this behavior too. They are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs in adolescence and when they’re adults. They often get into trouble with fighting and vandalizing property, and when they grow up they are more likely to become criminals. They tend to become sexually active at earlier ages, and as adults, they are more likely to be abusive towards their partners and children. And, like the children they bully, they are more likely to drop out of school.
So how can you tell if your child is being bullied? The first thing is to always try to build a relationship of trust with open communication so that they will come to you if they are facing a bad situation. Even then, children often feel embarrassed and want to hide these types of things or feel they should handle it themselves. Here are some warning signs that may indicate that your child is being bullied:
- They begin to isolate themselves
- They begin to have physical symptoms that keep them from going to school functions, such as stomach aches
- Their grades begin to drop
- They have trouble sleeping
If you see any of these signs in your child, you should talk to them to see if they are experiencing bullying. By giving them support and reaching out to the school, you can help them end the trauma and create a healthy environment for all students. Don’t be afraid to get your child help or therapy, because bullying can lead to PTSD, depression, and other serious conditions that can be overcome with the aid of a trained professional.