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The blur between bullying and abuse

Created date

August 4th, 2009

[caption id="attachment_1947" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Bullying can have a lasting effect on a teen."][/caption] When one child dominates another, we call it bullying. When an adult does the same thing to another adult, we call it abuse. Bullying is something our society tends to shrug off, rightly or wrongly, but not abuse. However, with teens it can be difficult to judge when the line from bullying to abuse has been crossed, and that s especially true of a teen who was bullied as a child and who doesn t really know what life is like without someone acting in an abusive manner toward them. Let s say a teenage girl had for many years been picked on by some of the girls in her class. Then along comes a young man, and she absolutely craves the attention he offers, as if it s proof of her worthiness. But if this young man senses that she has become accustomed to being a victim, he may in turn victimize her, especially when it comes to sexual activity. Let me start off by saying, if you re the grandparent of a child who is being bullied, don t ignore such a situation. Yes, most cases resolve themselves as the children grow up, but other consequences such as the one mentioned above may develop. Even if you can t stop a bully from picking on your grandchild, you can offer solace as well as possibly more practical solutions, like being there to pick the child up after school. But what if you re the grandparent of a teen who is exhibiting signs of being in an abusive situation? A teen is less likely to be open about relationship issues with a grandparent. If your grandchild seems despondent, and if you sense it has something to do with the person he or she is dating, you can try to offer advice, but you also might get rebuffed. If that happens, perhaps you could offer to pay for professional counseling or speak with another relative closer in age, like a cousin, and see if this other young person could intervene. And finally, while you might not think it all that helpful to just be there for this teen, it s far better than doing nothing. Ask your grandchild over to help you with some activity, or just say that you re lonely and would like some company. While your grandchild is with you, he or she will be out of the pressure cooker for a little while, and that sort of psychological relief can be very useful all by itself.