While the start of a new school year can be exciting for many children, for others it brings on feelings of dread and trepidation.
A staggering 90% of middle and high schoolers report being bullied every year. In 2016, the Illinois Youth Survey reported 41% of McHenry County 8th graders said another student at school bullied them by calling them names. 21% of 10th graders said they were cyberbullied.
As a parent you never want to believe that your child has been targeted by a bully. Often your child will struggle to deal with the situation on their own, not wanting to call attention to it. But, there are some common signs that you can look for if you suspect your child is a victim of bullying:
- Fakes illnesses on a regular basis
- Sudden lack of interest in school
- Drop in grades
- Signs of physical abuse
- Reluctance to talk about school
- Withdrawn from family and friends
- Missing personal belongings
- Change in eating, sleeping patterns
- Has few or no friends at school
Actions you can take:
- Ask the right questions. Instead of asking the vague “How was your day?” try asking questions like “Who did you sit with at lunch today?”
- Monitor their electronic device usage. Have them log in with you to look at what apps they are using, posts they are making or are the subject of.
- If there are unexplained bruises or injuries, ask your child to explain where they came from but also reach out to the school. Talking with the principal and staff other than the teacher may be necessary since incidents of bullying can occur outside the classroom.
- Keep in contact with your child’s teacher. Nowadays most teachers allow communication with parents via email. Check in with them to see how your child is doing and address any issues you or they see occurring.
And most importantly, if you find you need help don’t hesitate to reach out—resources are available! Pioneer Center offers a variety of youth services including therapeutic mentoring, school presentations, and intensive home therapy, contact Pioneer Center at 815-344-1230.
Pioneer Center for Human Services
4031 W Dayton Street
McHenry, IL 60050