For many children, the start of a new school year can be very stressful, especially if they’ve been victims of bullying in the past. Mayo Clinic Children’s Center psychologist Dr. Bridget Biggs says parents and caregivers should know the warning signs. “If your child is reluctant to go to school, stressed after spending time online or avoids social situations, he or she may be being bullied.” Dr. Biggs points out that the consequences of bullying can be serious. Victims are at increased risk of depression, anxiety, sleep problems, self-harm, poor grades and, in rare cases, suicide.
Biggs has tips for parents and caregivers on how to help children who are victims of bullying.
• Talk it out: Ask your child about concerns
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• Learn: Get information from your child about what’s happening
• Take notes: Record details of bullying events
• Discuss how to respond: Walk away, get help from trusted adult or peer
• Build self-esteem: Encourage your child to get involved in positive activities
• Team up: Reach out to teachers
If the bullying doesn’t stop, contact the school or proper authorities.
Biggs says that that bullying comes in many forms: physical, verbal, emotional, social and online. She says creating a culture of respect in and out of the classroom is key to bullying prevention.