Bullying and Depression in Children

According to ABC News, 160,000 children a day stay home from school because they are afraid of their bully. Both boys and girls are equally distressed when bullied.

Now is a good time to look at the connection between bullies and suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of deaths in ages 5 to 25. The leading cause is depression.

Why are our children so depressed?

It is safe to say things have not gotten better over the years for our children, including their ability to cope.

Consider the point of the view of the child who is so terribly bullied by his classmates that he feels the only answer to his problems is to shoot them away.

Why do some children take their own lives, and some take the lives of others? A person in distress turns one of two ways – either inward on themselves, or outward on others. What causes such grief for someone to destroy themselves or others?

What happens to the mind/body/soul when a child is bullied:

The longer the duration of the bullying, the more intense the distress for the bullied. It is difficult enough for an adult with the maturity to rationalize and problem solve to not go down the thinking path that naturally comes with being bullied.

Children do not have the maturity to make rational decisions. Even adults become so pent up and angry that they are no longer thinking rationally. The longer the bullying, the more difficult it is to tolerate emotionally.

In the beginning of the bullying, it seems like a joke. “They are bothering me again.” We tend to laugh this off. Why admit someone is making us uncomfortable? But after a while, when the taunts do not stop, distress rises.

Warning Signs for Parents:

Your child will make excuses not to go to school, his grades will drop, as well as his interest in life, and he will be preoccupied and slow to bring himself around when spoken to.

For many children, these are signs of boredom or problems at home. But when your naturally happy-go-lucky child is bullied at school, the symptoms slowly intensify.

Behaviors change; he is irritable and short-tempered. Some become withdrawn, others are unruly and are often sent to detention. There are problems between the bullied and the bully, and these two frequently appear in the principal’s office for discipline. If the bully is true to form, he blames his victim, the principal believes him, and your child, the bullied, gets reprimanded and punished for not getting along.

This scenario is repeated over and over. Your child is devastated. His friends are no longer friendly to him; he may be lucky to have someone to sympathize, but your child is alone in his distress. The teachers tell him he lies. He soon learns not to talk about his bully problems because people intimidate him and will not listen. They hear the words, but they churn them into what they want to believe, which is not at all what your child is trying to say.

He will give you hints about his problems. He may sound like he’s blaming others as the reason for why he is not getting along. He will tell you how the teachers and principal are unfair. He will tell you incredible truths, if you will listen.

Most of us gloss over these signs and participate in the denial. Parents advise their child to try to get along, and generally do not take the time to listen to his problem. They minimize what he is telling them, and assume it is something he can work out with a little bit of forethought. Teachers tell him they do not see the bullying, so therefore it does not exist. Of course, teachers do not see anything. Every good bully knows to pull the pranks when the teacher is not looking.

What is a child to do?

Where does your distraught child turn? Who will help him? He is stuck in a vacuum where no one listens, and they do not believe him if they do listen. People will justify the bully’s actions, rationalizing the things they do. They tell your child to stop being so sensitive and grow a thick skin.

“Life is tough, kid, you have to learn to live with it.”

Your child should not have to live with a bully; to be so intimidated that they are afraid to be anywhere near the bully and his friends. No child should have to take a different route from home or school just so they will not be harassed by people bigger and tougher. No child should have to miss a single day of school because the adults in his life cannot help him solve his problem.

What does bullying do to your child’s mind, to his thinking? If we can understand what goes on his brain, we can stop the trauma. Having experienced many of these feelings myself, I can tell you with certainty, your child is in gut-wrenching emotional pain.