Every child is exposed to a certain level of risk or danger while interacting with his/her environment. So as a parent, it is imperative that you should develop measures for protecting your child from harm, violence, abuse, and the likes.
Child Protection, according to Wikipedia, is the “safeguarding of children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect”. One of such modes of violence among children is bullying, and inasmuch as it is a widely discussed topic, it is an issue that still lingers, even in more subtle forms.
Bullying is the use of coercion, force or threat to abuse, intimidate or aggressively dominate an individual. It is an intentional act where a person inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person through physical contact, words or in other ways.
Bullying can come in various forms which include: physical, psychological, verbal and cyber bullying. Boys are more likely to experience physical bullying, while girls are more prone to psychological bullying.
Children experience this more commonly among their peers, who feel they are better, stronger or more domineering than they are. It can also come from strangers, relatives and even parents themselves.
To recognize bullying in your child, here are signs to look out for:
- Physical marks on various parts of the body, which include fresh injuries and old scars with unknown origin.
- Fear of going to school and participating in extracurricular activities.
- Frequently asking for money for no particular reason.
- Unusual anxiety, nervousness and withdrawal.
- Insomnia and nightmares.
- Hiding information and secrecy, especially towards parents.
If you notice that your child is being bullied in any form, it is wise to find a solution to the problem immediately, to prevent severe consequences in the future.
Things that can be done include:
- Talking to your child about bullying, and making them understand what to do when they find themselves in such situations.
- Frequent communication between you and your children, to foster a good relationship with them. It is also important to listen to their complaints and chatter, and not dismiss them as childish talk.
Building confidence in your child.
- Encourage them to participate in various activities in the school and community around them. This will help to increase their self-esteem and make them capable of standing up for themselves when faced with challenges.
- Be part of their online experience. Become their friends on social media and scrutinize their posts, the duration of time they spend online and the people they chat with. However, do not over-do it, as this may make your child more secretive and try to avoid you by all means.
- Be their role model. Children look up to their parents and copy almost everything they see them do. It is important that you make yourself a good example for them to follow. Relate well with people around you and do not bully others, as it may make them become bullies themselves.
If bullying is not discovered early, it can lead to substantial damage, including emotional and mental health problems, for example, depression and anxiety, leading to substance abuse, decreased performance in school and suicide.
Child protection starts from the home, and it is important that parents take responsibility for the safety of their children, and do their best to keep them from harm and abuse, while shaping them into more stable individuals who can live their lives comfortably and contribute positively to the society at large.
READ ALSO: Children Special: How I Resisted Bullying