HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - October is national bullying prevention month! Schools, communities and organizations across the nation are encouraged to raise awareness and help children of all ages understand the consequences of bullying.
According to Dr. Jessica Quaife, a 9th grade counselor at the Alabama Connections Academy, behavioral changes that can’t be attributed to any specific life events, could be signs that your child is being bullied in school or virtually.
Quaife says the signs and symptoms of bullying are similar in all grade levels.
For example, drastic mood swings, changes in temperament and changes in eating and sleeping habits are common signs.
Oftentimes parents forget that bullying or cyberbulling could be the source of those behavioral changes.
“Lots of kids have social media and cyberbullying is a real issue,” Quaife said. “And so a lot of students are maybe not experiencing bullying in a physical realm, but they are experiencing it online.”
Quaife says to keep an eye on your child’s messaging apps and social media.
On the other hand, if you suspect your child is the bully, Quaife says the negative behavior likely stems from a lack of communication skills.
“A lot of times what we see is those students are bullying because they don’t know how to handle the situation that they are in," Quaife said. "They maybe don’t have the conflict resolution skills or the communication skills to resolve a problem and so they resort to anything that they know how to get themselves out of that situation and that ends up being bullying.”
Quaife says the key to bullying prevention is communication. She encourages parents to talk with their kids about the effects of bullying and why it’s a serious act.
“When I have lessons with my students about bullying prevention during the month of October, I remind them that bullying needs attention...just like a candle flame, it needs air to exist,” Quaife said. “So if you are experiencing bullying, one of the things that you can do there in the moment is not give it the attention that it’s needing to exist. Walk away from the situation.”
If you suspect your child is being bullied, Quaife says to reach out to your child’s school administration and counselors.
Alabama Connections Academy also has a webpage of resources for parents. You can find that information here.