God laid something on my heart about back to school. As you know, we like shedding light on all topics of mental health and don’t shy away. Most know that I have five of these crazy little beings known as children. They each have their own likes, dislikes, interests, goals, dreams, feelings, and personalities. My wife Dana and I try our best to pay attention to each child’s induvial personality. Now, this is not easy in this extremely busy world, nor is it a perfect science. Some things will slip through the cracks and go missed. However, if the time is taken, you can pick up on core changes if there are any.
There is no doubt that each child will face adversity of some nature as they continue their academic careers. We all had our own set of problems as we matured through the grades. There is one common issue that I have seen, and it appears to be having a greater impact on this generation, as we have made so many technological advances. This issue is BULLYING. I personally find bullying to be repulsive and extremely damaging.
I teach my children that there is nothing COOL about tearing someone down to make themselves feel better, EVER. I educate them that bullying is not just physical but can also be verbal and emotional. Gone are the days when it stays within the walls of the school. Cyberbullying has increased at astounding rates and does not appear to be slowing down. It adds a new technical approach that we as kids did not have to contend with. I encourage them to stand up to these actions when they see them occurring whether in person or online.
I often tell them that it is never ok to start something, but they have my permission to finish it. Turning a blind eye is the same as putting your stamp of approval on it. This road will not be easy and may not be the most popular at the moment, but it is the noblest and most righteous.
Let’s be blunt, it could also save a life.
According to bullyingstatistics.org, suicide is the THIRD leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. Also, for every one suicide, there are about 100 attempts. Bullying victims are 2 to 9 TIMES more likely to consider suicide. A study in Britain found that at least HALF of suicides among young people are related to bullying.
Could you imagine saving 50% or more of our children just by decreasing bullying?
Want to get more serious and personal? Studies suggest that a child will statistically take their own life in their own bedroom. The most common way is statistically shown to be strangulation (hanging). I have unfortunately observed this firsthand during my police career.
Parents, here are some common signs according to bullyingstatistics.org:
- Showing signs of depression, like ongoing sadness, withdrawal from others, losing interest in favorite activities, or trouble sleeping or eating.
- Talking about or showing an interest in death or dying.
- Engaging in dangerous or harmful activities, including reckless behavior, substance abuse, or self-injury.
- Giving away favorite possessions or saying goodbye to people.
- Saying or expressing that they can’t handle things anymore.
- Making comments that things would be better without them.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your children bluntly about this topic. I find through research and experience that is open, honest, and direct breeds the most success.
Look for that change in personality and help protect our most precious resource. As always there is no shame in talking, it makes you stronger than you know. God bless you all!