Has Your Teen Been Bullied or Shunned? When to Seek Help for Teenage Bullying
What is it about going to school that makes it so terrifying for teens sometimes? It is not just because of forgetting homework or about what they are serving in the cafeteria. Sometimes it’s a not-so-nice classmate.
A bully has the potential to live in any child regardless of age or gender, which makes going to school feel like going to war. Dealing with school bullying does not have to be a suffer-in-silence situation. Teens just need to be brave enough to tell an adult they trust and the adults they tell need to show their bravery, too, by taking action.
What is Teenage Bullying?
The Centers for Disease Control defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
The bully tends to have more power in the situation based on size, strength, age, popularity, and more. Bullying can also occur in secret through gossip on a smartphone or computer.
Who is Harmed with Teenage Bullying?
The victim has problems interacting with peers as their anxiety increases. Regular exposure to this hurt can lead to having trouble sleeping, eating, and not taking part in their favorite activities.
Academic performance suffers as well and can lead to skipping class and dropping out of school. It also results in anger, rage, and even avoidance. The victim seeks to avoid settings where the bully may be.
But it’s not just the victim who faces issues. The bully often has trouble relating to peers and may be at greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse. They often get into fights, vandalize things, or drop out of school.
Bullying can be obvious when your teen comes home with bruises on their face. But what if they are experiencing pain emotionally without your knowledge?
There are other means of taunting and bullying that don’re reply on physical strength and size. Now more than ever before, technology has made it possible to harass someone without ever having to look at them. As teens spend more time online, the risk of cyberbullying comes with it.
What is Shunning?
Shunning is the use of real-world or online social networks to encourage exclusion, spreading gossip, or other secret forms of attack.
In this situation, a group builds its identity by kicking a member out and destroying their reputation, value, and other parts of their lives. The taunts can either be directed towards the person or it may come out as pretending that they are not there. This can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, and aggression.
Without support or adult intervention, teens are vulnerable to believing they are worthless.
When to Seek Help if Your Teen is Bullied or Shunned
While it’s partially up to the schools to enact policies against bullying, there are things you can do as a parent. If you notice changes in your teen’s mood (isolation, irritability, acting out, sadness, etc.) or physical changes such as bruises, it’s time to start a conversation about what’s going on.
Talk to your teen calmly. Listen to them without judgement or interruption. Remember that this is their experience, so you shouldn’t try to discredit them or put your own perspective on them. Remind your teen that bullying is never their fault and they are not alone. This is an important first step in resolving the issue.
If they’re afraid to report bullying themselves, you could consider speaking to a teacher, guidance counselor, principal, or school administrator. Chances are, your teen may not be the only victim experiencing this.
If your teen is experiencing serious issues such as showing suicidal tendencies, resorting to violence, skipping school altogether, or turning to substances, it’s time to get help from outside the school.
Teen Therapists Can Help With Teenage Bullying
A therapist can help teens build healthy coping skills and teach them to maintain their confidence. They can also help with any corresponding issues with depression or anxiety that result from bullying or shunning.
While bullying can unfortunately be common in school settings, parents should never make their teen feel like bullying is normal or that it will work itself out. Bullying can come with long-standing mental health issues that will not go away on their own.
The time to address the issue is ideally as soon as it starts. But that’s not always the way things play out. If your teen opens up, consider talking to the school and looking into a therapist to help them work through it.