As we observe child protection week it is imperative that the spotlight be put on bullying. Childhood bullying does have an effect on the adult life. Research has shown that constant bullying can lead to depression and anxiety as well as suicidal thoughts.
We are not strangers to this thought. In recent years we have heard of cases of bullying that resulted in children taking their lives. Unfortunately, they did not get the help that they needed in time which results in a major toll on their mental health.
Bullying today has escalated from what use to be name calling verbally and face to face, to harassment online. Most of our children are using social media platforms and sadly there are trolls present who create an unrealistic expectation of what life should be like.
Infact cyber bullying is an entire topic that must be unpacked but with bullying in general we must identity the different types of bullying that are out there to know what it does for our kids.
Children are bullied verbally or socially. The teasing, name calling, mocking, hitting and kicking and sexual comments or gestures are forms of bullying children have been exposed too.
Whilst on the topic of bullying we can’t ignore how adults are also guilty of bullying children. Sometimes there is this one adult that will constantly pick on them, ridicule them, tear down their self-esteem and make them feel left out. This type of bullying also happens in the home setting by a caregiver and sadly the implications on a child’s adult life is severe.
Information online showcased how researchers shared information on a study that was conducted in 2014 by researchers at King’s College London in the UK that found that childhood bullying resulted in negative social, physical and mental health effects 40 years later.
This tells us that if childhood bullying is not dealt with the effects are felt years later. The problem is that most victims of bullying don’t speak out. They carry around this baggage of unresolved trauma that seeps in and causes health issues in their adulthood.
As parents we must encourage our children to feel confident to come and talk to us about their emotions. We should also work on making our homes a safe space so our kids can feel comforted.
This means we should also call out adults that bully and shame our children. This is not healthy and acceptable. If we want to make sure our children have a healthy mindset as an adult then we must address these issues as children. Picking on their weight, height and other physical features makes them feel insecure about themselves and we would see that they would not want to be around that adult anymore.
As much as we say children should speak to us, we also need to look out for their behaviour. A child’s actions will give insight to what they are feeling. If they don’t want to meet a relative, stay cooped up in their room and refuse to engage these are signs of a bigger issue.
We also need to address how adults who have been victims of bullying must deal with the after effects of it in adulthood. If you or your partner have experienced this then try to seek the help. This way you will better know how to handle a situation like this when your child speaks to you about it.
It is important that we acknowledge that our children can indeed have these conditions of depression and anxiety. There is no set age. These underlying issues strikes when something bigger gnaws at their wellbeing. Do not ignore the signs. Speak to your child and understand their state of mind so that tomorrow they can be emotionally strong minded adults.