If your children were to ask you if you’d ever bullied anyone, what would your answer be? A father who was asked this sobering question by his daughter decided to come clean – to her and to his victim.
While we may like to think that bullying victims don’t carry the hurt and the scars into adulthood, the sad truth is that systematic attacks during childhood can have a lasting impact.
ChadMichael Morrisette, who is now 34, was bullied while in junior high school in Alaska. He told Yahoo Parenting of the horrifying events that plagued his school days:
“The entire football team bullied me. It wasn’t one guy, it was six or seven guys who would follow me in the hallways, harassing me, insulting me, threatening my life.”
He’s now a visual designer and brand consultant in Hollywood, but hasn’t forgotten those tormented school days. He was recently given a reminder when one of his bullies contacted him. That person was Louie Amundson – who was asked by his daughter if he’d ever bullied anyone. Here’s what Louie wrote to ChadMichael in a Facebook message, and the response he received:
ChadMichael tells Yahoo Parenting: “It unlocked something in me I didn’t realise I’d been holding onto. I cried a little bit. It was so moving.”
He said in an email to Mashable, “Being bullied as a kid instilled a strength in me that I carry with me (as) an adult. I can view it as me being a victim, or turn that around into… experiences (which) made my self worth stronger. I learned how to push through experiences that, at the time, may have seemed unbearable or insurmountable.”
It’s the perfect example for children to realise that it’s never too late to apologise. But it’s also a demonstration of the impact of bullying, well beyond the school yard.
If you’re concerned your child is being bullied, here are some signs to look out for, courtesy of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation:
- Emotional and behavioural signs
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Frequent tears or anger
- Mood swings
- Feels ill in the morning
- Becomes withdrawn or starts stammering
- Becomes aggressive and unreasonable
- Refuses to talk about what is wrong
- Begins to target siblings
- Continually ‘loses’ money or starts stealing.
- Has unexplained bruises, cuts, scratches
- Comes home with missing or damaged belongings or clothes
- Comes home hungry
- Doesn’t want to go to school
- Changes their route to school or are frightened of walking to school
There are also some more subtle signs to look for, like your child often being alone or excluded from friendship groups at school, or being unable to speak up in class.
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation also has some great tips on what to do if you think your child is being bullied.
Allow your child to tell you their story, as many times as they need, and be empathetic.
Discuss what happened and try to not let your own emotions take over. Remind your child that it’s ok to feel hurt, but it’s not ok to be bullied.
Find out what is happening
Get as much information as you can about the situation, but don’t offer to confront those involved, so as not to inflame the situation.
Contact your child’s school
As this is the most common place for bullying to occur it’s important to involve the school of the situation.
Give sensible advice
Don’t encourage your child to fight back, but try and help them explore ways to respond to the bullying.