Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Remember the video that went viral in March last year where a class VII student of a famous South Delhi school was bullied and hit by a group of class VI students. The incident raised concern about children getting bullied or abused in school by the seniors or even classmates. Whereas some children are vocal about it and return home to share the incident with their parents, many don’t. This may be due to lack of efficient parent-child communication or may be due to the reason that the child being an introvert.
Whatever be the reason, a bullied child invariably shows signs of his experience in school and it is for the parents to decode this behaviour and help the affected child before the situation goes out of control. While physical marks of abuse can be seen on a child’s body, it is the mental trauma that goes unseen and is more difficult to deal with. As parents, you need to be aware of all this. Here is a list of some indications:
Loss of stationary material or lunch: This is a major indication of a child being bullied at school. A bully will always pick up a pencil/scale/rubber of a child even if he doesn’t need it. So if you notice that your child’s pencil is missing everyday he/she returns from school, up your ante. Similarly, if your child complains of being very hungry after coming from school, be careful. May be he/she is forced to give the lunch box to the class bully.
Bullied children won’t normally come and tell whats happening with them at school. Be careful while asking.
Reluctance to go to school: After crying for a few initial days, children are happy going to school. As by this time they have already made friends and become familiar with the surroundings. So, if a child is reluctant to go to school or complains of a headache or stomach-ache every morning, it is a sure shot sign that he/she is not happy at school.
Sudden change in behaviour: Look for sudden changes in a child’s behaviour. A playful extrovert child will go into a shell when bullied. Look for his/her mood when he/she comes back from school. If there is a sense of relief on the face, it means that he/she is victim of bullying.
Sleeping pattern: Stress is the main cause of sleeplessness. A child who is victimised by bullying is so traumatised that he/she cannot sleep. But some children sleep excessively when in distress. So a sudden change in sleeping hours is a sign one has to look out for.
Doesn’t take part in school activities: This is a big non-verbal clue that a child is being bullied. A bullied child will not enjoy extra-curricular activities.
Bully younger siblings at home: Sometimes a child who is bullied at school repeats that pattern at home with younger siblings. He/she will show the same aggressive behaviour towards the sibling that he/she is subjected to at school.