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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : features : vitality September 30, 2014

3/24/2012 9:59:00 PM
When signs of bullying are there, but child is silent
West Yavapai Guidance Clinic

Much has been written lately related to bullying. By shining the light on this topic, many children have felt a new confidence in bringing their concerns and negative experiences forward. But many kids remain silent, leaving the detection of bullying to the keen eyes and ears of parents. But what should parents look for, and are there specific, telltale signs for which they should be alert?

"Children may not recognize what they are going through as bullying, so they may minimize or even defend the behavior of other children," said Leah Webb, M. Ed., child and family therapist at West Yavapai Guidance Clinic. "They may just tell parents that this is how John is, or this is how Mary always acts. Yet, the actual behavior they are experiencing really does rise to the level of bullying."

Webb suggests that parents who may not be hearing their child verbalize bullying experiences can still be on the lookout for the following warning signs:

• Evidence of physical abuse

• Loss/damage of clothes or personal items

• Change in mood: irritable, angry, depressed, anxious

• Change in motivation, reluctant to go to school or participate in activities

• Decline in school achievement

• Acting out or isolating behaviors

The above signs could signal bullying, or they may signal that the child is experiencing other challenges. But observing one or more of those signs should be the trigger for parents to sit down with their child and encourage open and frank communication.

In addition to being ready to communicate openly with your children, parents should consider the impact that they have as role models and how they might unintentionally signal that bullying is OK.

In an article by Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, in Psychology Today, the author challenges parents with the following: "Courage and compassion are not ideals; they are daily practices. The TV shows that we allow in our homes, the way we discuss politics and social issues, the way we handle altercations at the grocery store - these are choices with real consequences. Bullying is a serious problem in schools, but we are all accountable for the cruelty crisis that is fueling these behaviors. The answer to the bullying problem starts with this question: Do we have the courage to be the adults that our children need us to be?"

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