The popular movie Mean Girls portrayed it best; sometimes being bullied by friends is the worst kind of bullying there is, and the hardest to detect. Bullying among friends is known as relational bullying, and it injures kids on an even deeper level than bullying by kids they never got along with.
Why is relational bullying so much more damaging? According to an article from CNN, it stems from the natural tendency to develop an identity based on how our friends treat us.
Children are more likely to develop a personal identity based on how their friends treat them So, if who they thought were friends begin treating them badly they begin to see themselves the way their friends portray them: worthless, ugly, fat, or any number of other terrible things.
You may have noticed that bullying awareness has risen over the past few years, which is a very big step in the direction of stopping bullies. But, bullying among friends remains difficult to detect. According to the article, it’s much more subtle than punches and insults being thrown around between kids who clearly don’t get along.
Among friends, bullying can take the form of spreading rumors or teasing someone for what they wear. Criticizing race, gender, or how well they perform in school is also common among groups of friends participating in bullying.
The worst part? Many of these forms of bullying are followed up with “just kidding,” and made to seem less serious than they really are, because it is all exchanged within the bounds of friendship.
This type of bullying is a breach of trust for children, people who are supposed to be on their side are now hurting them, and they don’t know how to stop it. Bottom line: it’s traumatizing having your friends makes fun of you because, as a kid, you may believe your friends are all you have.
It is important to recognize this type of bullying because it reflects the extent to which kids value peer relationships. Some common warning signs that this may be happening to you child are difficulty getting involved, anxiety, depression, and trouble maintaining friendships.
On the brighter side: this kind of bullying isn’t as common. According to s study cited in the article, 30 percent of 18 year olds said their friends have bullied them at least once.
Regardless of how common or uncommon this type of bullying is or isn’t, all steps possible should be taken to stop it. Bullying is an issue across the nation, even in Missouri.
If your child has suffered this type of bullying in St. Louis, Missouri, and you have received insufficient help from the school or other parents, contacting an experienced bullying injury attorney may be in your best interest.