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Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Hurt Too – How To Deal With Bullying At School

Posted: January 24, 2020
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Being called names in school by anyone is one of the worst things to happen to anyone. This No Name-calling Week, spread some happiness instead!

According to a recent survey, a child kills her/himself every fourth day in India. While this may be shocking, the reason why they kill themselves is way more shocking than one can fathom.

Right from depression to abuse there are a number of triggering factors. The question is how many parents are open-minded to the concept that their child can be a victim of depression or related behavioural issues.

When a child is silent, grumpy or aggressive parent usually misinterpret it as a tantrum. Usually, that is not the case. A child can undergo severe depression and stress just like an adult can. And “name-calling” can be one of the reasons behind that.

January 21st to 24th is observed as ‘No Name-calling Week’ around the world. It was first founded in 2004, by the famous publication house Simon and Schuster taking inspiration from James Howe’s novel “The Misfits”.

This entire week teachers, students, and parents take part in various activities to help people recognise the need to address the issue. The motto of this week is #KindnessInAction.

How does name-calling affect children?

Has your kid complained one of her classmates taunted her, “fat”, “loser” or “stupid?” If yes, please don’t ignore it. It may be a small thing for the parents. But to the child, it strikes their self-extreme severely.

The effect of name-calling can harm their personality development. It may lower self-esteem, cause self-doubt, and self-criticism among other things. For a child to experience such extreme mood swings while being bullied is extremely difficult and unreal.

Sudden impact on behavior

One of the first things you notice in a child going through an emotional breakdown is when an extrovert child starts wanting to be alone and avoiding conversations. Another symptom is one when the child becomes aggressive, and starts throwing tantrums for no reason.

The bullying often starts in preschool where the children are called names quite often. I remember my neighbour’s daughter telling me that she was called “blackie” by one of her seniors. It became quite difficult to explain and console a child who has been exposed to such mental trauma.

At such times, it would be better to seek professional help.

Avoiding social life and making excuses

Most of the name calling happens in school. 75% of the students are called some name or the other throughout their school life. The impact can be worse in older kids as it is more traumatic and concerning.

When a child avoids social contacts or makes excuses to avoid going to school, parents need to understand the child instead of being mad at them.

Watch out for serious threat and warnings

On the surface, names like “fatty” or “blackie” may look totally harmless but there are more repercussions to this than we know. When the “mere act of innocence” takes the face of racism and body shaming, it impacts the person for a long time. It may not just be anxiety and a low self-esteem, some children might even consider suicide. Or it may have the exact opposite impact and the children might turn into bullies themselves!

If there is a complaint against your child for mentally or physically abusing other children, make sure you don’t ignore that. Talk to the child about his/her behaviour.

If you are the parent to a teen, you need to be careful if the child says things like, “I want to kill myself” or “I will leave the house.” Be cautious if the child also says, “I feel like killing him/her.” There are several cases where a teen was involved for the murder due to mental abuse.

How to deal with such issues

A few weeks ago, my daughter was complaining of stomach ache, so we took her to the doctor immediately. After the primary investigation and some tests, the results came negative and her stomach ache also stopped. But a few days later, it started showing up again. And it was then, that I noticed a pattern- it was on Tuesdays and Fridays, in particular that she complained of this!

I tried talking to her, to no avail. But after a few tries, she opened up. To my shock, it was a teacher of hers who would call her “Junior Drama Queen” for having cried in class. I also found out that the lady threatens and beats students on their head with a wooden scale. We ensured that immediate action was taken against her.

Despite all this, it took me weeks to console my daughter and gain back her confidence. This just goes on to show you that name-calling is definitely not a child’s play.

To avoid such a situation, keep a close watch on your child. Don’t ignore any signs and symptoms even if it looks harmless. A beautiful childhood determined productive and happy adulthood. But a bad childhood gives rise to a broken adult!

Picture credits: Still from Netflix series 13 Reasons Why

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