Is Your Child Being Bullied?

How to tell and what to do about it.

Roughly 22 percent of students between age 12 and 18 have been bullied during the school year, according to recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Various other studies indicate that approximately one in four students in the US will be bullied during their adolescence. Bullying, according to the CDC, can have a negative psychological and social impact on both victims and aggressors. Targeted kids may struggle with sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression. And those who bully are at greater risk of academic problems, substance use, and violent behavior later in life. 

According to Briarcliff-based psychologist Joseph Schippa, PhD, bullies are “often kids who are looking for attention or are reacting to something that’s happened at home. In extreme cases, there’s a lack of empathy and the need to dominate, as well as a contempt for ‘weaker’ kids.”

Cyberbullying can be even more troubling because, says Schippa, “it can be done quickly and anonymously—and the damage can be more permanent and more public.” What can be done to prevent or stop bullying?

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Check in With Your Kids “Consistently ask your kids how it’s going,” says Schippa, or share an observation you’ve had. “Ask who your child is hanging out with,” and be sure to regularly “monitor their state of happiness.”

Build Alliances Kids should pursue activities in which they are successful, to help them “establish connections with like-minded kids and gain a support group,” says Schippa.

Be a Role Model “We need to teach kids how to problem-solve and help support high self-esteem so that they can stand up for themselves and for others,” Schippa believes. “Building social and emotional intelligence is a huge skill that will help them be successful throughout their lives.”

Know the Warning Signs

• The onset of unexplained injuries

• Unexplained loss of personal items

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• Mysterious headaches or stomachaches prior to specific events or situations

• Avoidance of activities your child used to enjoy 

• Loss of friends or social status

• Unexplained school absences

• Self-destructive behavior such as cutting, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts


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