Dear Dr.Eve – I fear my child is being bullied

“Dear Dr. Eve,
Since Lufuno Mavhunga was bullied at school and then killed herself, I
fear that my child might also be bullied. I don’t know if this is just how
teenagers act or if she is really being bullied. How do I approach her
about it as we don’t have such a good relationship?
Whenever I ask her how things are going at school or with her friends,
she just says “fine”.
She spends a lot of time in her bedroom and online. I think she is lonely
as her older brother left home and I work and am out a lot. Her father
and I finally divorced after years of him abusing me. My child saw a lot of
rough stuff at home.
Please help me.
Lydia”

Dr.Eve Replies:

“Dear Lydia,
Signs that your child is being bullied may be physical, emotional,
behavioral, social, or academic. Stop and read these signs right now.

It requires a lot of your patience and presence to get your child to
acknowledge that she is being bullied. I strongly encourage you to sort
out your own life – and quickly- so you can pick up these signs and do
what parents are there to do, namely watch their children’s backs and be
there to notice the signs that their child is being bullied. … or is a bully.

Here are a few short and long term effects of bullying: All of these are
symptoms of PTSD :
– Stress, anxiety, and depression
– Anger or frustration
– Loneliness and isolation
– Feelings of rejection, or poor self-

– School avoidance, including missing or dropping out of school
– Poor academic performance
– Separation anxiety
– Self-injury

– Changes in sleep and eating patterns
– Health complaints
– Poor relational skills

– Eating disorders
– Suicidal or homicidal ideas or actions

A few facts for you to know about bullying and trauma: children and teens
who have been exposed to trauma and violence may be more likely to:
– Bully others
– Be more distressed by bullying or appear desensitized to bullying
– Be the targets of bullying themselves.
Complex, right? Your child has been exposed to your ex-husband’s
violence which makes her vulnerable to being bullied and bullying. In
addition, your absence increases her chances of both bullying and being
bullied. Neglect and abandonment are considered traumatic experiences
for a child and as I have said, children who experience trauma are more
likely to bully and to be bullied.
Trauma creates social and interpersonal difficulties for young people.
This makes them vulnerable and easier targets for bullying. The bigger
the issue here is that bullying has long-lasting impacts on everyone involved :
the person being bullied, bystanders who witness the bullying and the
a person who bullies others.
Being bullied can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Nightmares,
flashbacks, of their bullying experience, insomnia, and the other symptoms
mentioned above In fact, it is considered so serious a traumatic event
that it is known to affect a person’s development, social interactions and
academic performances.

A frightening statistic: 75% of bullied victims report a higher likelihood to
developmental illness.

Not everyone responds to bullying in the same manner: Some children
repress their feelings and thoughts about bullying. This results in
numbness or loss of interest in activities. Feelings of intense fear,
powerlessness, humiliation, defencelessness, and anger abound. It is no
wonder that a child seeks relief from these feelings through drugs, risky
sex, bullying others .. and suicide.
Bullying is a cruel tactic that people use to assert their own sense of
power and agency in a life in which they themselves feel traumatized and
helpless. Whether bullying is cyber-related or /and face to face, a person’s
cognitive perception of themselves, others, and the world around them is
disrupted and destroyed.
This is a horrible existence for any child.”

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