When school ground threats become reality, we have a problem. The signs are obvious. Troubled children tend to act out no matter what the age. The anger, rage and depression is usually tended to with drugs, alcohol or the need to strike out in order to numb their own pain and suffering.
Parents today also have to face a stigma that they did not grow up with. The Internet. Twitter, blogging, cyberspace text messages. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY as a parent to be checked in as far as knowing or trying to be a part of your child’s world.
Andrea Malkin, a certified chemical dependency counselor and registered addiction specialist in Woodland Hills has seen the abuse through parents of bullies and bullied kids alike for 14 years, and through the eyes of the media, some of the basic questions are:
What is a Bully?
A Bully is a child who is not getting the attention or feeling that he has been “heard or seen” by one or both parents. He usually finds validation and attention in striking out and hurting another, which is usually a sibling which is our first “peer” in life.
When does bullying usually start?
Because of the importance our parents represent to us, the feelings of not being acknowledged by them as young kids make them need to claim their own power. Unfortunately it’s a false sense of importance in their childhood that they take on to adolescents and on to life behavior in relationships.
Who bullies and who gets bullied?
A bully needs to cause shame, generally due to his own feelings of not fitting in. The one that gets bullied is usually a sibling at home where there’s a vulnerability that makes him a perfect fit for the bully.
What do bullies do?
Bullies want others to be scared of him… except if you’re a healthy person, this strategy doesn’t work and the bully is avoided and looked down upon by stronger kids. Someone else with low self-esteem that wants to be liked at any cost will find this person someone they can’t do enough for.
What are the psychological long term effects on a bullied youth?
Children told that they’re stupid, dumb and no one likes them… who have been taunted, degraded, or invited others to join in humiliating him… unfortunately need professional help to re-program negative messages into positive ones.
Students who are the target of a bully experience negative emotions. Feelings of persecution prevail over feelings of safety and confidence. Fear, anger, frustration, and anxiety may lead to ongoing illness, mood swings, withdrawal from friends and family, an inability to concentrate, and loss of interest in school. If left unattended, the targeted student may develop attendance and/or discipline problems, fail at school altogether or, in the worst cases; they are suicidal or retaliatory and violent.
What can be done to see there’s a problem concerning bullying?
A parent who’s not invested in their child, for whatever reason… doesn’t know if their child is in pain or causing pain. With the divorce rate as high as it is, one parent in the home struggles with the limited amount of time unfortunately, they are able to give to their son or daughter. The ironic fact is, it’s the parents who have the insight to support this child either being aware of the pain this child is in, or the child who’s so angry all of the time who’s causing pain to another.
What part can the media play in helping to curb this current problem?
The media is doing a good job in bringing the attention of this issue to the surface. Because of the numbers of drug use and suicides today we can’t deny this exists any longer.
If a child is being bullied, what should a parent or teacher do?
Parents should remain vigilant and understand school policies regarding bullying and the consequences of bullying. Parents must keep communication flowing between them and their children – our teachers aren’t parents. If a teacher does see it, hopefully, they will be aware of huge problem at school, and report it to the authorities immediately and ask for and accept help from the school whether their child is the bully, the target, or a witness.
Parents must continue to be a positive role model, encouraging friendships with others based on trust and respect, acknowledging and accepting diversity, and resolving disputes peacefully are positive ways to model appropriate social behavior.
- Talking About Death Excessively
- Losing Interest in Things that Once Brought Joy
- Trouble Sleeping or Eating
- Making Comments of Feeling Hopeless, Helpless or Worthless
- All of a Sudden Putting Affairs in Order
- Announcing that Things Would Be Better if “I just wasn’t here.”
- Suddenly Being Extremely Happy/Euphoric After Being so Down and Sad
- Giving Treasured Possessions Away
- There is Usually More than Just One Attempt Before One Kills themselves.
- Family History of Mental/Emotional Disorders and Substance Abuse
- Deep Sadness
- Family History Suicide
- Family Violence
- Physical or Sexual Abuse
- Firearms Kept in the Home
- Chronic Physical Illness
- Chronic Exposure to Others Who Have Died or Committed Suicide.
The child who is not heard at home or has no one to talk to will undoubtedly take their pain to school and possibly string it into the rest of their adult life, unless of course they become exhausted of hiding their suffering and choose to stamp it out by ending it all with suicide. Take a moment, stand up to your kids, don’t allow them to call the shots anymore. And, if you can’t understand how to help them, cope with them or relate to them, seek help. You may just save your kids’ life…
For more information on this subject, therapy and consultation, please reach out and contact:
Andrea Malkin (818) 881-5109
Andrea Malkin c.c.d.c.r.a.s., is a Registered Addiction Specialist.