WACO, TX - Putting a stop to bullying makes for a better community. The Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network is doing its part to help by observing October as Bullying Prevention Month—especially when it comes to the behavioral health of children.
“Bullying can affect a child’s physical health and mental health long after the event or events of bullying have taken place,” said Katie Chadwell, Child and Adolescent Therapist for the Heart of Texas Behavioral Network’s Klaras Center for Families. “Short-term effects of bullying include feelings of anger, sadness, fear, embarrassment, and/or loneliness. Getting bullied at school can affect children’s ability to sleep, to learn, and can also affect children’s appetites. When children are getting bullied at school, they often go into survival mode which makes it harder to focus, harder to learn, and harder to complete work.”
Chadwell added the long-term effects of bullying include feelings of depression, feelings of anxiety, increased aggression towards others, increased behavioral issues at school, a drop in grades, increased absences from school, and lowered self-esteem.
“The stress of being bullied can also cause physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, a lowered immune system response, and increased feelings of fatigue. Children who are bullied long-term are also at an increased risk of misusing substances and in some cases even developing a substance use disorder,” Chadwell said. “Additionally, children who are bullied long-term have higher rates of self-harm, attempted suicides, and deaths by suicide. Children today face a different type of bullying than many of adults did when we were children. Not only are today’s children being bullied in school verbally, socially, and/or physically, but they are also experiencing cyberbullying which brings that feeling of unsafety into the home, leaving them with nowhere, or only few places, to feel safe and accepted.”
Chadwell stressed if a child is being bullied, she would first recommend that caregivers talk to the school counselor or administrative staff, as schools often have bullying protocols and ways for bullying to be reported that students might not know about. She also recommended some online resources available to caregivers:
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Vince Erickson, Director of Community and Governmental
Cell: (254) 265-2030