You’d think that once school ended, kids would get a break from bullying. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Bullies don’t take the summer off. In fact, many things that are hallmarks of summer are what can set up kids for being bullied which can take things from bad, to worse. Many places that kids hang out during the summer become a prime place for bullying: whether it be the pool, park, camp, day care, mall, or in the neighborhood.
Many kids will be spending time at camp. Often summer camps are staffed by teens who often do not see the bullying, or ignore it. This provides ample opportunity for bullies to choose targets. Camp should be a safe haven for kids, a place where they can learn, develop, have fun, feel comfortable, and experiment with new things. Unfortunately, as schools are experiencing a rise in bullying, so are camps. Sleep-away camps can become a particular type of hell for a bullied kid with no respite from the bullying.
Even cyber bullying peaks in the summer as kids have more free time, often unsupervised. Unchecked time spent on social media and adding in unregulated social network sites and any damage done by a text or picture is immediate. When kids are free to text, tweet, Kik and share, they will. We know that cyber-bullying is the bullying from which there is no escape- even if you turn off the computer, the hate is there when you power up. Learn how to protect your kids from cyber-bullying.
Unless a child tells you about being bullied — or has visible bruises or injuries — it may be difficult to tell. Watch for these warning signs of bullying:
- Effort to avoid participating in activities
- Repeated loss of possessions or money
- Loss of self-esteem
- Depressed, withdrawn, and/or anxious
- Loss of appetite or complaining of stomach aches
- Difficulty sleeping
- Prefers to be alone or is always late to activities
It is important that everyone – parents, caregivers, teachers, and camp counselors help kids have a bully-free summer, especially kids who have been targets of bullying in the past. Awareness is the first step; being proactive can make a difference.