Children in Illinois who are bullied are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, make regular health complaints, and skip, miss our drop out of school. For many bullying victims, missing school can result in decreased academic performance that results in a lower GPA, poor standardized test scores and minimal school participation.
While many children may not wish to go to school every once and a while, school refusal is distinguished from a normal desire to not want to attend their classes by a number of different patterns. These include the following:
- How long they have been trying to avoid school
- How much distress they exhibit as a result of going to school
- How strongly the child resists before leaving for school
- How much this resistance is interfering with the family’s normal daily life
It is important for parents to remember that if a child is victimized by student bullies, they can still struggle with school refusal even if they attend their classes the majority of the time. For example, a child who refuses to attend school may have only missed school one or two times within a one-month period but have been tardy nearly every day because their anxiety is so extreme that it prevents them from getting there on time.
Children who miss school because of bullying may also take a repeated number of sick days for health problems that are unidentifiable. For instance, a child may complain of regular headaches and stomachaches, even if their pediatrician concludes that no medical problem exists. Parents should keep in mind that these health complaints that keep their child from school are often indicative of an anxiety problem, which is a common side effect of bullying.
What parents can do
Parents who have a child that exhibits one of these signs of bullying should keep in mind that even though a physical problem is not causing their symptoms, their child is not necessarily making them up. It may also benefit parents to talk to their child to gain insight into what may be triggering these school avoidance behaviors. Although school refusal is often a symptom of bullying, it can also be caused by having difficulties with schoolwork or trouble making friends.
However, if their child’s behaviors are caused by a bully who is tormenting them, parents should contact the school and attempt to get the issue taken care of. If this does not work, parents should consider speaking with an attorney who can provide more information about what legal actions can be taken against their child’s bully.