Back-to-School Can Sometimes Mean "Back-to-Being Bullied"
It's back to school time. For many parents and elementary and secondary school students, new teachers, school supplies and fresh wardrobes come along with a renewed worry about bullying. It is reported that a child is bullied every seven minutes in our country and an estimated 77 percent of students are bullied mentally or physically, at some point during their school years, according to the Youth Ambassadors 4 Kids Club. With this in mind, children returning to school this year may be experiencing more than just back-to-school jitters– they may be anxious about returning to an environment where they have been bullied.
University of Phoenix College Chair, faculty member and professional therapist Julie Schaefer-Space has outlined several warning signs for parents to look for that may indicate a child is being bullied. This includes changes in behavior such as fighting with other siblings or becoming withdrawn at home, a strong desire not to want to go to school or a drop in grades, or physical signs such as bruises or signs of sickness such as an upset stomach when it's obvious the child doesn't have an illness.
"Identifying the signs of potential bullying is the critical first step to taking action," said Schaefer-Space who has worked as a professional counselor with more than 100 children who have experienced the effects of bullying. "Once you can identify these signs, you can then start working toward a solution."
According to Schaefer-Space, establishing a process for detecting, discussing and monitoring the problem can help in more effectively reaching a solution. She offers five suggested steps for parents, including:
>>Increasing awareness – Parents must educate themselves on the signs of bullying and realize that they are not alone.
>>Communicate – Ask children questions about how they slept or what they are looking forward to doing in school that day. Their responses can provide a wealth of insight.
>>Gather more information – Ask teachers if they have noticed anything that would signal the child has been bullied. Also, check a child's text messages and Facebook profiles. Cyberbullying is becoming an increasing issue, with approximately 40 percent of students being bullied via electronic channels according to the Youth Ambassadors 4 Kids Club.
>>Develop an action plan – Set steps in place to monitor the signs of bullying to see if it persists and engage with your child regularly to open up communication about the problem.
>>Follow through – It's important to keep at it. Be active to both spot the signs of bullying and discuss them with the child to work toward a solution.
"It is critical that parents take this issue seriously and empower themselves with the knowledge and techniques to identify bullying and make a safer environment for their children at home and at school," said Schaefer-Space. "If we can see bullying, we can solve it."
Schaefer-Space is one of the many University of Phoenix faculty members providing instruction with current, real-world expertise in counseling, human services and psychology. University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences offers diverse associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs for students who want to enter the helping professions. Those who need help getting into a career to help those in need can visit phoenix.edu/socialsciences.