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Researchers Discover Devastating Results of Childhood Bullying

Researchers Discover Devastating Results of Childhood Bullying

Bullying comes in many forms. Some examples of what victims endure include: name calling, teasing, spreading rumors, pushing or shoving, stealing property, sexual comments or gestures, cyberbullying, leaving the person out of activities, hitting, slapping and kicking, threatening. It’s shocking to know that young people are subjected to this everyday at school and on the streets. What’s even more shocking is to realise that these children grow up still affected by their experience.

Poorer health, lower income, lower quality of life  – more likely for victims of bullying

Many studies have been carried out to examine the affects of bullying on children. Researchers have learned that these affects are far-reaching and complex. They can take their toll well into adulthood.

It has been well established that bullying can cause depression, anxiety, conduct problems, psychosis and suicidal ideation in young people who have suffered at the hands of bullies. The Medical News Today reported from a study that highlighted some of the affects of bullying on children. It found that these children were prone to night terrors, sleep-walking and nightmares.

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A 2014 study carried out at Kings College London UK, found that up to 40 years later there are still some negative effects of bullying both socially, physically and mentally. The researchers found that at age 50 people who had been bullied as children were more likely to be in poorer physical and psychological health and have more problems with cognitive functioning than those who had not been bullied.

Problems in other areas included: being more likely to be unemployed, earning less for those who were working and having lower educational backgrounds. They were also found to be less likely to be in a relationship or to have a good social support network. The victims themselves reported that they had a lower quality of life and life satisfaction than their peers who had not been bullied.

Those at the forefront of research stated:

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“Our study shows that the affects of bullying are still visible nearly four decades later. The impact of bullying is persistent and pervasive, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood” – Dr.Ryu Takizawa from the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London.

“Toxic Stress” and Bullying

Another study into the long-term affects of bullying examined the concept that bullying victimisation is a form of “toxic stress”. Advocates of this theory outline that this toxic stress affects the physiological responses of children. This might explain why otherwise healthy victims of bullying go on to develop health problems later in life.

It seems that elevated levels of a protein called CRP or C-reactive protein, have been found in victims of bullying. Traditionally, high levels of CRP are found in the blood when the body is fighting inflammation like arthritis, or an infection of some kind. This could explain the connection between poor health and bullying – the body is reacting in the same way to “toxic stress” as it would to an infection.

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The Affects of Cyberbullying

Obviously these studies do not address the long term affects of Cyber Bullying – we need to wait and see what is found over time. We do know however, that a number of young people have already taken their lives after being bullied on line. The DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) emphasises however, that in these cases there were other risk factors present and social media did not necessarily play the defining role.

New research outlines that cyberbullying is linked to teen depression. One million children have been harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook. (Consumer Reports 2011)

Experts in Cyberbullying suggest that parents guide their children through safe practices when online instead of banning them from their computer when some kind of problem crops up.

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The Future and Bullying

Professor Louise Arseneault of the Kings College Study says: “We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing up”.

She advocates the use of early intervention to prevent problems arising in the first place.

According to these studies we know that bullying has been going on for more than 40 years. Maybe it has always been a reality. However it continues despite anti-bullying campaigns, better awareness and educational programmes in schools. Professor Arseneault is right – we can’t just accept bullying as an expected part of life. As a society it is imperative that we act on this knowledge to rid our schools of bullying. It seems to me that maybe if we took our focus off the victims and onto the bullies we might learn more about how and why it’s happening in the first place.

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Published on December 14, 2018

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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3. Build a Community

In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

4. Accept Help

Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

5. Get Creative with Childcare

Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

7. Create a Routine

Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

This article may help you to discipline your child better:

How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

9. Stay Positive

Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

10. Move Past the Guilt

In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

11. Answer Questions Honestly

Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

12. Treat Kids Like Kids

In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

13. Find Role Models

Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

Final Thoughts

Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

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Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

Reference

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