This post was modified from its original form on 04 Jun, 13:22
We are seeing an increasing numbers of children and teenagers who are the victim of severe bullying. The primary reason for this change is the use of the internet and text messaging to vent intense anger. Cyber-bullying is very common today in our schools and is damaging severely many children and teenagers.
A major cause for such harsh peer treatment today is the result of the excessive and misdirected anger, jealousy, severe selfishness, the collapse of marriages and permissive parenting.
A tragic result from bullying in the school and through the internet was reported this year www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/03/holding_for_pho.html .
Also, in large numbers of our patients their emotional pain was primarily the result of peer rejection, bullying and ridicule in their childhood and adolescence.
While the diagnosis mental health professional identify in children and teenagers who are bullied is often adjustment disorder with anxiety, we suggest to these children and their parents that a more accurate diagnosis would be a major peer disorder.Problems in children who are bullied
Children who are bullied by their peers often develop a number of psychological difficulties including social isolation and loneliness (Boulton, 1992), psychosomatic symptoms and hyperactivity (Kumpulainen, 1998), anxiety, social phobia (Gilmartin, 1987), depression and suicidal ideation (Rigby, 1999), fear of going to school and low self-esteem. Also, their peers regularly side with the bullies against them, do not support them and even develop strong anger toward them (Rigby, 1991). As a result of harsh treatment by their peers these can develop severe insecurities and fears, depression and intense anger with, at times, violent impulses for revenge against their tormentors.
The impulses for revenge can become obsessive even though usually they are not acted upon. The anger in these children which is really meant for their peers can be misdirected often into the home toward younger siblings or the mother. Embarrassment concerning the abusive treatment by peers often keeps the child from relating their feelings to their parents. Subsequently, parents are often unaware of the causes of their children's excessive anger.
A 2009 study found the risk for psychotic symptoms nearly doubled among children who were victims of bullying at age 8 or 10 years, independent of other psychiatric illness, family adversity, or the child's IQ, and increased nearly 4-fold when victimization was chronic or severe (Schreier, A, et al., 2009). The experience of being bullied severely damages a child's ability to feel safe in the world and, in some individuals, can result in paranoid thinking.Reasons for bullying
The most common reason for being bullying is the clothing worn by a child and his/her appearance. Other common reasons include:
- weakness in athletic abilities due to a lack of eye hand coordination
- a child's intelligence
- strong creative and artistic gifts
- a strong moral code
- confidence with a refusal to go along with the crowd
- a healthy personality
- smallness in stature, obesity, excessive thinness, etc.
Miguel, a ten-year-old boy, told his parents whenever other children made him a scapegoat at school or at sports. Although he was the smartest student in his class and a good athlete, he became increasingly anxious and angry as a result of the constant ridicule by peers. The apparent reason for the abuse was his protruding front teeth. They called him Bucky the Beaver at every opportunity. To his credit, even when he was outnumbered, he was emotionally strong and had no difficulty responding in an assertive way to his tormentors. However, he developed symptoms of anxiety as a result of peer ridicule.
The anger with his peers regularly spilled over into his relationships with others in the family. Miguel knew he was misdirecting anger and was motivated to try to resolve his resentment with his peers. He was asked daily to try to view his peers as being jealous of his intelligence and athletic abilities and then to think of forgiving them. He was helped in this process with his fathers encouragement. Miguel's dad told his son that he had been subjected to similar treatment as a boy. Miguel actually came to feel compassion for his peers and viewed them as being weak males who could not face him individually, but needed to hide in a group.The response of schools
Teachers, regardless of length of service, report not being confident in their ability to deal
with bullying and 87 per cent want more training (Boulton 1997). New programs for teachers and students need to be developed to protect children in our schools, to help victims learn how to resolve their strong anger with impulses for revenge, to encourage peers to understand bullies and to support victims, and to provide treatment protocols for the hostility in bullies.
When parents complain to the school about the bullying of a child, a common response from school administrators is to hold the victim equally responsible for the conflict(s). In our clinical experience this often is not the case. Then, parents can present a written list of the bullying episodes with the name(s) of the bully and insist that bullies participate in an empirically proven anger management program. They may also request that teachers receive more training on dealing with anger in the classroom and with bullying.
The angry, defiant child who bullies other children in Catholic schools should be required to participate in ongoing treatment with a mental health professional who has expertise in the resolution of excessive anger. Principals and teachers should communicate with the treating professional to ascertain whether the child is willing to grow in the virtues that can decrease excessive anger such as forgiveness, respect, generosity, charity and kindness. Given the severe harm caused to children by excessive bullying, if the angry child is unwilling to change and children at the school are being harmed by his/her anger, then we recommend that the parents be informed that the child must be removed from the school.
This intervention can be effective not only in protecting innocent children, but also in helping the angry, defiant child to realize that there are strong negative consequences to bullying behaviors. Also, such a strong correction may be the prime motivating factor that finally leads an angry child to change abusive behaviors and to grow in virtues in the pursuit of a healthy personality.Building confidence
The experience of being bullied can lead to depression and loneliness, explosive anger and impulses for revenge, anxiety and mistrust, low confidence, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, social isolation and even paranoid ideation. In addition to trying to resolve anger with the bullies by a process of forgiveness, many of these youngsters benefit from working on building their confidence and their ability to trust;that is, their ability to feel safe with their peers.
Growth in confidence in the victims can occur in a number of ways particularly by working on same sex friendships and by strengthening the relationship with the same sex parent. Confidence can also grow in families with faith by being thankful regularly for one's special God-given gifts and body.The role of faith
When appropriate, faith can be beneficial in the healing process with children who have been bullied. Growth in trust can occur in some children by suggesting that they meditate several times daily, "Lord help me to feel safe with friends whom I can trust." Also, participation in parish youth groups lead to a new ability to feel safe with peers. Many youngsters have been hurt so deeply by bullies that they are unable to forgive them. discover that they cannot forgive those who have bullied them. Catholic youngsters can be helped by giving their anger to God, reflecting that revenge belongs to God or taking their deep resentment into the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The process of resolving anger with bullies is challenging and requires a great deal of strength and grace.
Some male also discover within themselves an anger with God for allowing them to be hurt regularly by their peers. They can experience a relief by expressing aloud, "God, why did you let this happen to me?"Also, uniting one's rejection pain with that of Christ who was also ridiculed and abandoned can help individuals find meaning and strength in their suffering.
When the school is unable to protect children from the pain of ongoing harassment or insensitive treatment, other options can be considered including enrollment in another school, in a charter school or in home schooling.School phobia and boys who don't play sports
Boys who do not play sports often experience significant peer rejection and bullying in a culture that places excessive emphasis upon athletic success as a sign of true masculinity. Such boys can develop a school phobia. They often have strong feelings of loneliness and sadness, few male friends, weak male confidence and resentment toward males who were insensitive to them. These boys can develop same sex attractions in an unconscious attempt to gain the male acceptance that was missing in their male peer relationships.
These males benefit from special attention from their parents, especially their fathers. A challenge here is that fathers tend to be confident bonding with their sons primarily through athletic activities. Many fathers often have difficulty knowing how to be close to their sons who do not show an interest in sports. A common error fathers make with sons who lack eye hand coordination is to attempt to force them to play sports. Many boys simply lack the ability to learn the skills needed for baseball, basketball, soccer or football.
Fathers can bond with such sons in a number of ways including hiking, fishing, hunting, playing chess, and walking. They can also identify and discuss topics of interest to their sons. In addition, these boys also benefit from their fathers helping them to grow in an awareness of their special God-given gifts that is essential in building male confidence.
Fathers are often limited in their giving to boys who don't play sports for some of the following reasons:
- lack of self-knowledge that they modeled after fathers who had difficulty in positive emotional self-giving
- a father's unresolved anger with his father which he misdirects at his son
- a father's obsession with sports as a way to strengthen his male confidence
- weak male confidence in the father
- selfishness in the father
- lack of balance in the father's life.
Parents can help these boys and teenagers by criticizing the prevailing cultural view that sports and the body image are the most important measures of masculinity. They can present the traditional Western civilization opinion that healthy masculinity is the result of having a strong character or personality. We have found that an effective approach to building confidence in such males includes:
- improving the quality father-son time together in non athletic activities
- identifying with positive character traits of the father and other male family members
- working on good male friendships
- exercising to improve body image
- discussing the role of the male as being a protective spouse and father, not an athlete
- not being obsessed with one's body
- forgiving those who damaged male confidence
- downplay the importance of sports in regard to healthy masculinity
- not feminizing a boy or enabling excessive play with girls or girls' toys, such as dolls.
We have found that faith in children who have been bullied in believing families.
Parents can help these children by :
- recognizing that one is a child of God with a specific mission (see The Purpose-Driven Life)
- being thankful for one's God-given body and gifts.
- meditating upon asking the Lord to help one feel confident and safe in trustworthy male friendships
- meditating upon the Lord as a good friend
- asking the Lord to protect male confidence and to see oneself as God sees him
- thinking one is powerless over all the anger with those who rejected him and turning it over to God.
Many of these boys can act in an impulsive, angry or even explosive manner at times as a result of their peer rejection pain of sadness and insecurity. A number of these boys are surprised by the depth of their resentment, including at times anger with God for not giving them eye-hand coordination. Their resentment is often misdirected at siblings and the mother. Growth in forgiveness and in a greater appreciation of their special God-given gifts can diminish this anger. Also, the sacrament of reconciliation is helpful in resolving such strong resentment.
Parents need to give special attention and protection to these males for many reasons with one of the most important being that adult male homosexual predators try to identify and pursue males with their emotional weaknesses.
FOR NEW MEMBERS YOU MAY WANT TO READ SOME OF THE ARTICLES IN THE ARCHIVES. THERE ARE MANY, MANY DIFFERENT LINKS, TOPICS,PETITIONS, TO SIGN AND INFORMATION AND STEPS TO HELP SOMEONE BEING BULLIED.