October is National Bully Awareness Month. A wise student in my kids martial arts class during one of our bully mat chats said that bullying should be talked about all year long. I agree as bullying happens all year and happens at all ages, young and old.
I was bullied in school. I was threatened that I was going to be beat up, I would get notes dropped at my desk with mean things written in them(this is before social media), the kids would want to copy off my test papers(I was too smart-target), and I even had a dog biscuit commercial sung to me using my last name over and over again. But you know the funny thing, the kids that were torturing me were the kids I grew up with that used to be my friends. We always perceive the bully as the mean kid on the playground that you don’t know who has singled you out. Those bullies are definitely out there. But most times, and the most hurtful bullies are those that were very good friends of yours that know your fears and strengths. These bullies are trying to fit in, trying to look cool, trying to appear powerful so that they are not a target and they can be part of the popular group.
So why I am sharing this with you? Because I would not go to the teachers. I wouldn’t really share what was going on with my Mom. I already had no self-confidence as a result of a crazy home life. I was a prime target. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, lonely and wanted to disappear. I felt that I deserved the treatment I was getting. But you and I can make a difference. I want to share some possible signs that your child, your relative, a friend or someone you come into contact with is being bullied.
1) The person does not want to go to school or work anymore. They have lost interest and look for any excuse not to go.
2) The person gets a lot of headaches, stomaches or other ailments. This is caused from the stress and worry of the anticipating the next encounter.
3) Your child’s grades have dropped or they are getting incompletes on assignments.
4) Your child is no longer hanging out with a particular friend or group of friends.
5) Changes in eating habits. Either the person is not eating as much as they normally do-that was me or the person is eating much more of their favorite comfort foods.
6) items are missing, especially electronics, jewelry, clothing, backpacks, money, food(that were packed for them) or even homework assignments.
7) Difficulty sleeping and nightmares especially on Sunday nights.
8) Self destructive behaviors like putting themselves in danger, talk of hopelessness, and suicide.
If you see any of these signs, start a dialogue right away. Let the person know that it is not right what is happening to them. Be there to talk. Help them find activities that are outside that setting where they can have new friends to rely on and can build their self- confidence back up. Martial Arts was that activity for me. Here is a great list of resources available from https://www.stopbullying.gov/get-help-now/index.html
Together, we can make a difference! Master Ellen Reichelt