For the last couple of months, our TV’s have overloaded us with news reports of bullying and suicide. Children and teenagers are being bullied due to their sexual orientation, sexuality, their body image and simply because they just don’t fit in or are not accepted by their peers. With today’s technology however, bullying has gone to whole different level and the rate of teen suicide is on it’s ultimate high. I then wondered, what about those kids that are being bullied at home? Working with families of children with learning disabilities and/or mental disorders, I have learned that bullying within blended or extended families tend to occur. Today, we have same-sex parents, blended families, extended families, and so on but what happens when a child/teen is being bullied at home by a family member because they don’t fit in at home?
Statistics show that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among those 15-25 years of age. Now however, that age group is becoming younger and younger. Suicide in children is now increasing from ages 5-14 and simply because these children do not see a way out. They are unable to talk about what they are feeling (depression), they have no friends at school (bullied by peers) and cannot confide in their parents (bullied/conflict/problems at home).
There are several types of bullying, abuse but I am going to concentrate on the psychological aspect of verbal abuse. I have encountered families in where they believe words do not hurt, not realizing the damage being caused to these children as their self-esteem is broken down instead of being built up. This is critical for a child becoming a teenager, as the child is growing up in a home feeling unwanted, not being good enough, and unworthy.
This is a major concern in blended families. I often encountered families in where the child already has a disability and the new parent may not be so understanding, supportive and will often blame the child for exhibiting maladaptive behaviors. In the case a new marriage has brought in new biological children, the child will then exhibit an increase of behaviors which will also impede on that child’s capability of overcoming challenges due to their disability.
So, it is not up to just teachers and school administrators to stop bullying. It is up to us, Parents, because is just not happening in schools but in our homes as well. Children with disabilities or not, cannot help their behavioral problems, thought process, and their basic need of love and acceptance. These children may require more attention, more structure but really what they want is to feel part of the new family.
So, as parents, community advocates and as adults, let’s pay attention on what is happening at home and on our street. We are the ones to advocate for these children because in the future, they are the ones they will become productive members of our society or not. It all depends on how their self-esteem was affected growing up that will make the difference in their future.
Signs to watch out of “your” being bullied at Home
Child is uncomfortable being around a family member or one/both parents. Child will exhibit eye contact and engage in little conversation with that person.
Observe families members and/or parents. If a parent constantly teases, criticizes, ignores, tells the child he/she is bad and makes unreasonable demands then, this child is being verbally and psychologically abused. Their self-esteem is being broken down which will result in feelings of low-worth and depression.
The child is exhibiting an increase in maladaptive behaviors such as increase in aggressive behaviors, attention seeking and as a teenager, this child may become sexually promiscuous as craving attention, or simply of feeling loved or wanted.
The child may also exhibit behaviors as “eager to please”, hoping to get acceptance, these children will go to the extreme to please the person bullying, abusing them.
As parents, we have to remember that our first responsibility is to protect our children, this includes situations in where feelings are being hurt and ignored. So, if a family member is being harsh or cruel to your child, or any other child in the family, put a stop to it now. You never know the impact words could have on someone.