Back-to-School: Helping Your Adult Child With Bullying

  • Posted at Oct 2, 2013
  • Written by yellowbrick

YB bullying

The start of the school year can be a tough transition.  Piles of homework and busy schedules replace lazy days at the beach as emerging young adults get back to the grind. Heading back-to-school reunites classmates who lost touch after spring.  Many young adults look forward to seeing school acquaintances again, anticipating the good times to be shared.  Others feel uneasy or worried about the socialization of school, as they have fallen victim to bullying in the past.  Help an adult child with bullying before it is time to go back-to-school.

Recognizing adult bullying as a problem

Often times, when people think of a bully, they imagine a tough, big kid on a playground ready to throw punches and steal lunch money from smaller, quiet kids who have a hard time sticking up for themselves.  While this perception certainly does exist, realize that bullying goes on beyond the playground, affecting victims of all ages.  Adult bullying happens all around – on college campuses, in the workplace, on the internet, and among social groups.

Bullying involves aggressive, often repetitive behaviors by someone who perceives to hold power over another. According to Stop Bullying, there are three types of bullying: verbal, social, and physical.  These universal types of bullying may be more exaggerated in adulthood, as adults who bully employ harsh, detrimental tactics like manipulation, isolation, and intimidation.  Adult bullying often falls under a category of peer abuse, whether verbal, physical, emotional, mental, or sexual.

Effects of bullying on young adults

While the effects of bullying range for emerging young adults, signs like low self-image and hindered social and emotional growth may point in the direction that something is not right. Emerging adults tend to completely drop out socially, living in isolation, and shutting out those around them when bullying becomes serious. Unable to confide in parents, family, and friends that were trusted previously, bullied young adults keep their hurt to themselves. Everyday patterns often change, as to avoid situations susceptible to bullying.  For some, this means complete refusal to go to class or work.

Bullying contributes to serious mental health concerns like anxiety or depression. Vulnerable from continual disposal of relentless bullying, emerging adults may mirror the signs of depression, outlined by Yellowbrick.

How to help

Emerging adults often conceal the peer abuse they have endured. Too ashamed to reach out for help, emerging adults may feel neglected when help is not offered. Parents benefit by demonstrating sensitivity with non-judgmental concern, creating a confidential, caring atmosphere when approaching adult children about bullying.

Take the following steps when confronting an emerging adult about bullying:

  • Actively listen to what your adult child has to say
  • Thank your emerging adult for sharing their experience
  • Believe their story without placing judgement or blame
  • Seek out resources together and develop a plan

If bullying has impacted an emerging adult to the point of serious depression, it may be time to involve outside help.  Treating depression can be complicated and is best managed by a team of caring professionals. Yellowbrick explains treatment approaches for depression, including new research supporting methods free of anti-depressants.

Before young adults head off to school for the semester, proactively prepare them to face bullying in an assertive fashion.  Reassure your adult child that they do not deserve to be bullied and that they are not at fault. Teach children to confront bullying, instead of ignoring it, by calmly telling the bully to stop or that they feel disrespected.  Encourage seeking out community help like involving campus security or police if the bullying escalates, persists, or borders abuse.  Most of all, invite your emerging adult to talk with you about anything bothersome going on.  Young adults benefit from open communication with family and friends when dealing with a bully.

For more information on cyberbulling go to

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