By: Diane Mendoza-Balatbat
My son Gadiel is your average kid who annoys/loves his sisters on a daily basis. Towards 3rd to 4th grade, he became increasingly mean towards them especially to the middle child Soleil. He would annoy her just to make her cry. I almost always had a note from the teacher every week regarding missing homework, not listening in class, etc. He got moody and didn’t want to talk to me about things in general except for games or movies. It wasn’t until he got irrationally mad at his sisters over a pokemon card that made me realize something else was going on.
It broke my heart to learn that a classmate was bullying him in school. He did not carry bruises nor walked home limping, so I was grateful that he wasn’t physically hurt. Nevertheless, he got hurt emotionally.
In schools, they teach you that bullying is having the power over you with the intent to hurt. Bullying is done by causing harm, fear, abuse, or property damage. It can be verbal, written, physical, or electronic.
There are many signs that a child may be bullied in school. Signs of bullied children may include:
- Unexplained injuries
- Frequent sickness (or faking sickness)
- Declining grades or loss of interest in school
- Noticeable change of behavior like sudden bursts of anger, low self-esteem, depression
- Change in sleeping and eating patterns
It is important to keep a close watch to recognize these signs so we can take action ASAP should it occur. We never think that our children might get bullied in school but it does happen to some degree. Kids do not often tell the adults for fear of being rejected or not believed. If you suspect that your child is being bullied but is not opening up to you, listen to what your child is not saying. Observe the body language. You can also talk to their teacher or their friends to figure out who, where, and how your child is being bullied. Emphasize to your child that you are there to help them and that you believe them.
Bullying has become more aggressive these past few years. Campaigns like Cartoon Network’s “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” still airs on tv and I hope that the time comes when this is not an issue we need to keep addressing in school. Sometimes I still feel guilty about not finding out soon enough that my son was being bullied. Fortunately for Gadiel, he stood up for himself. He told the bully to back off or he would fight him back. His classmate has not picked on him again or since.
We’ve had to work hard to bring back Gadiel’s old self and to make sure he or the girls won’t get bullied. Some days are really hard when he gets really moody and it pains me when he feels like he can’t talk to me. But I know that the day will come when he will be okay again.
Diane Mendoza Balatbat is a wife and stay-at-home mom of 3 kids and 2 dogs. She is originally from Cebu, Philippines but is currently living in Utah with her family. She competes with her kids on Just Dance and annoys her husband when she intentionally murders Adele’s Rolling in the Deep at the top of her lungs.