When it comes to child or teen bullying adults are usually the last to know. Even conscientious parents and authorities (teachers, camp leaders, etc…) frequently don’t notice bullying until it is well-established or it is too late.
Why does this happen especially when we are allegedly more aware, sensitive, and vigilant about preventing and effectively dealing with, bullying? Every situation is unique but there are many common reasons.
Here are seven reasons.
One factor is the shame. Bullying is humiliating and it is difficult to share humiliating experiences. Some verbal attacks are difficult to repeat as they might focus on the bullied person’s weight, intelligence, race, or can be sexually degrading. Reporting this to a parent or adult authority can be embarrassing. The same applies to physical bullying (he stole my watch and I couldn’t stop him).
Fear can also be a factor. You fear that if you report the bullying and the bully gets in trouble, then the bully retaliates, often with greater malice. In many cases, the bully will give an explicit warning about the repercussions of reporting. “You tell the teacher and I will beat you up/tell everyone not to talk to you, etc…
Pride. It can be a blow to someone’s pride to admit that you are scared of someone or that you are afraid to walk to school or go to the school bathroom alone. Some bullied people might have been told to stand up for themselves, “fight their own battles”, or that no one likes a “rat”. Asking for help can be difficult.
Bullies can be cunning. Bullying tends not to occur in the presence of adults who could intervene on behalf of the bullied person. They are discreet, preferring the corners of the playground, the backs of buses, or the classroom when a teacher makes a trip to the bathroom etc…
Lack of hope. Sometimes bullied people believe that no one can or will help them. The latter, sadly, might be based on experience. Perhaps the previous reaction of an adult was to dismiss verbal tormenting as simple arguing, something they need to learn to deal with. Sometimes adult denial kick in and they don’t want to give light to something that is indeed occurring “in the shadows.”
It is “normal”. Sadly, some children might see bullying a normalized behavior because they experienced bullying at home. They come to see being bullied this as their plight, as normal.
Lack of communication. People are busy, especially these days. Some parents (and kids) are married to hectic schedules, their various screens, etc.. and don’t establish a relationship of frequent and open communication. In this environment, there is little room to squeeze in a conversation about bullying.
There are more other reasons adults don’t detect a child and teen bullying. Even well-meaning or observant adults can miss the signs or not be made privy to these horrible experiences. Our next blog devoted to bullying will identify some potential sign of bullying.ect a child and teen bullying. Even well-meaning or observant adults can miss the signs or not be made privy to these horrible experiences. Our next blog devoted to bullying will identify some potential sign of bullying.
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