The pandemic has triggered a variety of mental health symptoms, including bullying. Over the past year and a half, self-esteem and self-identity have taken a big hit, causing more adolescents to become targets or perpetrators of bullying.
Bullying is about power. Those who are hurting from a mental or emotional disorder such as low self-worth, depression, or anxiety, can become prey to bullies. Often, those who bully attempt to build themselves up by bringing others down, so they commonly go after individuals who seem to be easy targets. Sometimes people get bullied for no apparent reason.
The legal definition of bullying is “Repeated, persistent and aggressive behavior intended to cause fear, distress, or harm to another person’s body, emotions or self-esteem or reputation.”
Bullying can have long-term damaging effects on everyone involved: victims, bystanders, and the bullies themselves, which is why it’s essential to address it as soon as possible.
How has Bullying Changed Since COVID?
Bullying has always been present, but it’s more prevalent today, which has been one of the effects of the pandemic. New bullying trends have emerged, including:
A lack of empathy for those who have opposing views on masks and or vaccines
New bullies (people who didn’t bully before the pandemic)
More victims (people who didn’t get bullied before the pandemic)
Post-Covid stress from boredom, feeling overwhelmed, increased online activity, and other factors have contributed to the uptick in bullying.
Signs of Bullying
Since kids and teens often don’t tell their parents that they’re experiencing bullying, parents should be aware of a pattern of signs that may indicate bullying:
A strong dislike for school
A change in friends or social behavior
Repeated physical injuries
A change in eating and or sleeping
Isolating in their room and talking less
Ways Parents Can Help
The Three E’s(Empathy, Empowerment, and Engagement) can be very beneficial in helping parents connect with their kids, address bullying, and resolve other issues.
Teach self-compassion. Kids need to acknowledge when they’re feeling angry, sad, or worried. By teaching self-compassion, parents can help change their kid’s perspective when something bad happens, so they don’t automatically blame themselves.
Practice chronicling. Remind your kids how they got through other hard times in their life. You can then discuss how your child can use similar coping strategies to get through bullying or anything else that may cause distress in their life.
Be a role model of kindness, non-judgmental behavior, and acceptance. Each family has its own viewpoints, beliefs, and decisions on issues such as masks and vaccines, which may be different than yours. While it’s ok to not always see eye-to-eye and agree with others, we should try to handle disagreements compassionately and with kindness.
Even though bullying can be very harmful, parents and kids should know that there is still hope. With more awareness and a growing number of resources, parents can help prevent and address bullying with their kids.
The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate, and Conquer Bullying book provides more information on using empathy, empowerment, and engagement to help address bullying and other issues.
The Empowerment Space program provides a safe space with support, guidance, and education to empower bullying victims to heal, address conflict, and move forward.
For more support or information on ways to address bullying, contact email@example.com.