GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) A recent study ranked Michigan as a state with the biggest bullying problem in the United States. With students back in school, it’s important for parents to pay attention to signs that their child may be bullied or may be a bully.
West Michigan parenting consultant Cole Williams says warning signs that your child may be a victim of bullying include:
- Sudden loss of interest in school, activities, or sports they once loved
- Appearing afraid to go to school: oversleeping, not eating breakfast, not talking about the day ahead
- Signs of embarrassment/shame: not wanting to wear their favorite clothes could be a sign of online bullying and body shaming
Warning signs that your child may be a bully include:
- Physical or verbal aggression: don’t dismiss it as just “a normal stage” because your child is a pre-teen or going through puberty
- Obsessed with popularity: always on their phone or the computer could be a sign of virtual bullying
- Changes/upset in the household: more arguing than normal or a recent split up or divorce
If you suspect any of those situations, have an open conversation with your child. As them about their day and what could have made it better. Don’t be afraid to talk about bullying; tell stories you experienced as a kid. It’s better to start the conversations now to avoid bullying in the future. You should also have access to your child’s social media accounts and passwords. Have accounts yourself so you can understand how the platforms work and how people use them. If necessary, contact school officials or local law enforcement.