Bullied to Death

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What is happening to our kids when they feel the only escape from bullying they have, is death?

The recent story of schoolboy Daniel Fitzpatrick committing suicide at the age of only 13 years is appalling.

Bullying has been around forever and unfortunately, will continue. What then can parents do to help protect their children? What can children learn on how to manage this wrath that so often affect them.

Any child or teen that is being bullied needs to speak with someone. This may be a parent, the school Counsellor, a grandparent, aunt or uncle. They need someone to share their feelings with and to receive support from.

Bullying is devastating and with lifetime consequences. When dismissed it leaves the victim feeling isolated and alone. Young Daniel’s pleas went ignored resulting in his suicide.

We as a society must continue to speak about this wrath that remains in every school and within our society. We continue to hear these horrific stories of young adolescents trying to or unfortunately succeeding, in killing themselves due to the trepidation caused by bullying.

I know many people ask why did the parents not know or understand how their child was feeling. They do after all live in the same home, sit at the same table and spend time with them; how did they miss this? The problem is most teens do not share their deepest emotional issues with their parents. This is not because they do not love them or trust them, in fact, it can be quite the opposite.

The hundreds of kids I have Counselled over the years most all have the same story about why they haven’t disclosed the severity of the bullying to a parent. It is due to the fact they do not want to worry or distress their parents. The child is trying to protect their parents instead of causing them the same feeling of helplessness they currently feel.

Sure teens will speak to friends, but they are young, inexperienced and unable to help the way they need. Many go to the school for support, often to be dismissed. This then makes the child feel less worthy, inept and ignored.

Any child experiencing bullying feels isolated and alone. They shut-down, don’t want to talk, try to ignore how they feel and fall into a deep dark place where they don’t know how to crawl out from.

This is an issue of great concern and one that continues to destroy lives. Bullying won’t go away, but the way we manage it can and should change. While some great headway has been made in the way we look at bullying, it remains in its infancy.

How then do parents recognise their child is experiencing bullying? :

  1. Your child is withdrawing from friends or school functions
  2. The child appears tired and overwhelmed
  3. They become snappy, angry or over emotional
  4. Your teen is negative about them self and life
  5. Grades may drop
  6. School is avoided

Many kids are bullied due to the way they look, the size they are, the abilities they may not possess. While we always preach individuality, our teens just want to fit in and be part of their peer group.

If for instance you have a child that is overweight, and they are being bullied about this, perhaps it is best for parents to assist and support their child to lose the weight to not only feel better about themselves but also to develop a new level of self-confidence. If they are struggling academically, tutors may help them catch-up and improve grades. There are a number of things parents can do to support their child who is subject to bullying. Checking in with them regularly, even if they don’t always respond. The child then understands that mum and dad remain there for them.

How then can parents assist and support their child they fear is being bullied?

  • Discuss any bullying with your child, as shame can make them hide and relinquish power
  • Teach them resilience skills by ensuring they feel supported and heard
  • Listen to your child and never dismiss their feelings concerning bullying
  • Talk about bullying and ask questions about how they feel about it
  • Enquire what they may do if they ever experience bullying
  • Obtain professional support as children often lessen their emotional trauma to their parents
  • Determine what your child needs to rebuild their self-confidence

We all need to continue to discuss this issue and not permit it to disappear, leaving victims feeling alone. Discussion, support, school programs and involvement are all necessary to keep our children safe. We must stand up as a community against this epidemic.

More Blogs and information can be read at Dr Karen Phillip