No Name-Calling Week is a holiday that recognizes the importance of acceptance while taking anti-bullying measures in schools and having honest discussions about the severity of bullying.
As an educator, I am all too aware of the impact that name-calling and other bullying can have on an adolescent. However, as we all know, teens are not exactly forthcoming about their emotions. Parents especially may be left in the dark in terms of happenings at school and with peers. Moreover, the accessibility of technology and smartphones has made it even easier for adolescents to bully one another. Snapchat, instagram, vine, and other social media forums are often laden with unkind, sometimes downright harsh, remarks and comments.
Whether you personally experienced bullying as a teen or not, you likely know of someone who has been affected by bullying. It is important that parents understand just how serious this issue can be for a young person. Hormones, emotions, and peer pressures create a breeding ground for insecurity. Bullies often exploit these already-vulnerable teens, making life significantly harder in and out of school. While teens may be intent on guarding their private lives from their parents, it is vital that parents know the signs of a bully and a victim.
Signs that your teen may be a victim of bullying:
- Unexplainable injuries, or an attempt to hide or make excuses for odd injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothes, phones, tablets, jewelry, etc.
- Complaining of frequent headaches or stomach aches; attempting to miss school suddenly
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating after school (often a sign that a child is avoiding lunch in the cafeteria)
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares; oversleeping at any opportunity
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, sports, or other extracurriculars
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations; skipping plans or ignoring invitations from peers
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
- Prolonged depressed mood or talks of suicide
Signs that your teen may be bullying others:
- Frequently in trouble for fighting or verbally attacking others
- Sudden change of peer group
- Noticeable increase in aggressive behavior
- Behavioral and/or academic trouble at school
- Impulsive, irresponsible, or reckless behavior
- Overly concerned with popularity and new peer groups
Of course, you know your child better than anyone–and you know their level of openness with you. It is okay to have open and honest conversations about school that focus on social topics, as opposed to simply asking only about academics. While autonomy is a major part of teen development, there are plenty of occasions when parents can and should get involved. Cases of bullying are certainly one of those instances.
For more information on how parents can discuss issues of bullying and school violence with teens, visit the link below.