Bullying is unwanted, aggressive, forceful, coercive or threatening behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviors are deliberate and repeated with the intent to harm the recipient. Bullying is NOT a “normal part of growing up.” Weight-based bullying is hurtful and unacceptable just as any other type of bullying.
Studies report that 86 percent of children between the ages of 12-15 report being bullied or teased at school. There are different types of bullying including physical, social, verbal (includes written) and cyber. Some signs that your child is being bullied include:
- A resistance to go to school or ride the bus
- Drop in grades
- Wanting to be alone or withdraws from social or family activities
- Starts bad habits such as acting out, skipping school, talking back, aggressive behavior
- Talks about peers in a negative manner
- Has physical complaints such as headaches, stomach pains, panic attacks or difficulty sleeping
What can you do to help?
Create an open relationship with your child so that they know they can confide in you (good or bad). The better you know your child and their friends the easier it will be to know when something isn’t right. Allow your child to talk about the bullying and ask simple questions. Let them know that no one deserves to be bullied. Let them know that you will help and come up with a plan together. Report the bullying to the school and follow-up to make sure it is being addressed.
What not to do.
Don’t minimize, rationalize or explain bullying behavior. Don’t try to solve the problem overnight unless there is physical danger to your child or anyone else. Lastly, don’t tell your child to avoid the bully. Help work through and have a plan for when your child does find themselves in the situation with the bully. Having a plan is key!
By Molly McBrayer, clinical manager, Roper St. Francis Bariatrics & Metabolic Services