Recognizing the Victim - Bullying Series, post #7
(This blog post is part of a special series addressing the topic of bullying)
Bullying is prevalent in too many schools today. When there are many bullying incidents, it is logical that there are numerous victims as well. Victims of bullies do not go around wearing a sign identifying them – something that everyone can read. Many times they try to hide what is happening because it is embarrassing and they feel ashamed. Sometimes they even blame themselves for what is happening rather than focusing on the aggressor.
One of the most important things we can to do engage the bullying problem is to recognize the signs of when someone is being bullied. If we can figure out who the victims are, we can reach out to them and help put a stop to what is happening.
Consider the following signs from the Journal of Pediatrics. Victims of bullying and/or violence might exhibit any of these symptoms:
- Physical injury
- Difficulty concentrating
- Physical symptoms such as nausea or anorexia
- Symptoms of anxiety or depression (such as “on edge,” sleeping too much or when normally awake, unusually sad, angry, or disinterested in normal activities)
- Poor self esteem
- High rates of school absence
- Abrupt deterioration in school performance
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
- Adjustment reactions (inability to adjust to change)
- Grief reaction (denial, sadness, anger)
This does not mean that every person who at one time or another exhibits one or more of these symptoms has been bullied. But it you see one or more of these warning signs, it is time to look beneath the surface and discern if bullying has occurred.
Remember that the victim might attempt to hide or gloss over the bullying event because of embarrassment or shame. So be aware and careful as you try to find out the real story. It might be that if you observe these symptoms in a friend, acquaintance, or student, you can carefully ask questions or get help from someone like a counselor – either at school or in practice.
Being sensitive and aware can help you identify people around you who might be bullied. Look for the signs mentioned previously. When you think someone might be being bullied, you can carefully find out more. Don’t be afraid to reach out and try to make a difference.
When should you get more involved? Standing by or standing up is on deck next in this bullying series.