Children often keep bullying secrets from their parents. Parents can discover why they are the last to know and what they should be watching for in order to be able to help.
After there is a school shooting and it is discovered that the shooter was a child who was bullied. We often have questions...How is it the parents did nothing? Did no adults even notice? If it was that bad surely some caring adult would have intervened. Why didn't he/she ask for help? The investigation begins and we find the truth... they did ask for help, there were warning signs but the child never got relief from the bullying.
Kids have many reasons for not telling adults about the bullying they are enduring.
1) They are ashamed. The bully wears them down and they start believing they are worthless and
therefore not worthy of receiving help.
2) Boys (especially) in our culture are brought up believing "boys don't cry", "they gotta toughen up for the real world" Only a "Mamma's boy" would tell.
3) They perceive the bullying to be a part of the social and school culture.(Like team razing that turns into bullying)
4) They are afraid the bully will retaliate if they tell an adult. Bullies often warn the child about telling and all the bad things that will happen to them if they do.
5) They believe the bully is too popular, smart and/ or sneaky to be stopped.
6) They don't believe anyone will help them. They are told to avoid the bully, try to get along or advised to stand up for themselves when they asked for help so they stopped asking.
7) Someone told them the bullying belief that it is all just part of growing up.
8) They believe adults are part of the bullying. They may even be aware that an adult has given kids "permission" to bully them or at least have not intervened when they knew the bullying was taking place.
9) They believe that telling would be "ratting" and nobody likes to be a rat.
10) There was an unsuccessful intervention and the bully just got sneakier and it got worse.
Your child may not talk to you about bullying because the lines of communication are closed. They may not tell you how bad it is because they want to protect you. They don't want to add to your work load or cause you stress and they actually believe they can protect you by staying silent.
Or perhaps they did try to tell you and you fell victim to a bullying belief or made a common mistake and minimized it, Saying "it will pass" or "I was bullied too" and I am stronger today because of it.
While they may not come out and tell you there are warning signs you can watch for.
If your child is keeping bullying secrets you may have to watch for clues. Sometimes it is the way they avert their eyes when you ask them about their day...or they sound sad when they talk about school or Sunday evening they seem antsy...it could be very subtle. If you have a gut feeling you are probably right.
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