Teacher meeting with parent and studentThere are many warning signs that may indicate that someone is affected by bullyingeither being bullied or bullying others. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children who are bullied or are bullying others ask for help.
It is important to talk with children who show signs of being bullied or bullying others. These warning signs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Talking to the child can help identify the root of the problem.
Signs a Child is Being Bullied
Look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs.
Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:
If you know someone in serious distress or danger, dont ignore the problem. Get help right away.
Signs a Child is Bullying Others
Kids may be bullying others if they:
Why don't kids ask for help?
Statistics from the 2012 Indicators of School Crime and Safety show that an adult was notified in less than half (40%) of bullying incidents. Kids dont tell adults for many reasons:
Bullying can make a child feel helpless. Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as weak or a tattletale.
Kids may fear backlash from the kid who bullied them.
19 Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied and What to Do about
Warnings signs that your child is being bullied
If your child is bullied it means that a peer or peers are intentionally causing her or him pain. Peer abuse! Just the thought can send shivers down our spines.
But the fact is 160,000 children skip school every day because they fear being attacked or intimidated by other students. Reports also confirm that bullying is starting at younger ages and is more frequent and aggressive than before. And the cruel behavior increases with age. Chances are your child may be bullied.
Also troubling is that our children dont always tell us that they have been bullied. Ive spent many a meeting with kids who were repeatedly victimized and in clear emotional pain.
Why didnt you go to a trusted adult for help? Id ask.
Their replies were concerning:
I did tell my mom. She didnt believe me.
I tried to tell, but I got too embarrassed.
If I told my dad he would have only made things worse by yelling at the bully.
Why bother? The stuff my mom told me to try wouldnt work.
Repeated bullying causes severe emotional harm and can erode a childs self-esteem and mental health. Whether bullying is verbal, physical or relational, the long-term effects are equally harmful. Both boys and girls report high levels of emotional distress and loneliness as well as lower self-esteem, loneliness, anxiety and depression. Some situations the outcome is tragic: the child may take his or her own life.
So its time to get savvy and learn the warning signs of bullying. Bullying is always intentional, mean-spirited, rarely happens only once and there is always a power imbalance. The victim cannot hold his own and often will need adult help. Your child may not feel comfortable telling you about his pain, but if you know these signs your child is being bullied and tune in closer, you might be able to start bullying prevention in your home.
Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied
Here are possible warnings that a child may be bullied and needs your support. Of course, these signs could indicate other problems, but any of these warrant looking into further. See my blog, Signs of Cyber-bullying for signs of electronic bullying. Every child is different and any child can have an off day, so look instead of a pattern of behavior that is not typical for your child.
1. Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises and scrapes
2. Unexplained loss of toys, school supplies, clothing, lunches, or money
3. Clothes, toys, books, electronic items are damaged or missing or child reports mysteriously losing possessions
4. Doesnt want to go to school or other activities with peers
5. Afraid of riding the school bus
6. Afraid to be left alone: wants you there at dismissal, suddenly clingy
7. Suddenly sullen, withdrawn, evasive; remarks about feeling lonely
8. Marked change in typical behavior or personality
9. Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed and that mood lasts with no known cause
10. Physical complaints; headaches, stomachaches, frequent visits the school nurses office
11. Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, cries self to sleep, bed wetting
12. Change in eating habits
13. Begins bullying siblings or younger kids. (Bullied children can sometimes flip their role and become the bully.)
14. Waits to get home to use the bathroom. (School and park bathrooms, because they are often not adult-supervised, can be hot spots for bullying).
15. Suddenly has fewer friends or doesnt want to be with the regular group
16. Ravenous when he comes home. (Bullies can use extortion stealing a victims lunch money or lunch.)
17. Sudden and significant drop in grades. (Bullying can cause a child to have difficulty focusing and concentrating.)
18. Blames self for problems; feels not good enough
19. Talks about feeling helpless or about suicide; runs away.
What to Do if You Suspect Bullying but Arent Sure
Kids often dont tell adults theyre bullied so you may have to voice your concerns. Review the signs of bullying and then ask direct questions.
Youre always hungry: have you been eating your lunch?
Your CDs are missing? Did someone take them?
Your jacket is ripped. Did someone do that to you?
Watch your childs reactions. Often what a child doesnt say may be more telling. Tune into your childs body language. Silence is often powerful.
If you suspect bullying and your child wont talk to you, then arrange a conference with a trusted adult who knows your child. If your child has more than one teacher you may need to meet with each educator or coach. Keep in mind that bullying usually does not happen in all school settings and in all classrooms. The trick is to figure out if your child is bullied and then where and when it is happening so you can get the right help for your child.
Hint: If your child has a classmate, you might be able to gain more information from the pal than your own child.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on your child. Children who are embarrassed or humiliated about being bullied are unlikely to discuss it with their parents or teachers and generally suffer in silence, withdraw and try to stay away from school.
Stress to your child you are always available, are concerned and recognize bullying may be a problem.
Emphasize that you believe your child and you are there to help.
Please seek the help of a trained mental health professional if the signs continue, intensify, or your gut instinct tells you something is not right with my child! Please!
TIP SHEET: Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied
Bullying is an intentional, aggressive and repeated behavior that involves an imbalance of power or strength.
It can take several forms:
Note: Children with disabilities may be at a higher risk of being bullied than other children.
What to do if you suspect your child is a victim of bullying
The above signs are signs of bullying but are also signs of other abuse as well. If your child displays any of these signs talk with them and talk with the school staff to learn more about whats going on.
When talking with your child, dont just ask if theyre being bullied.
A better way to approach it is to say:
Some subtle questions:
If your kids or teens are being bullied do not over-react. Assure them that you love them that this is not your fault and you will help them. Let them know they can talk to you about anything.
Talk with your kids/teens school. Call or set up an appointment to talk with their teacher. Teachers are likely in the best position to understand the relationships between your child and other peers in their school.
Share your concerns about your child and ask the teacher such questions as:
If, after talking with your child and his or her school and you dont feel that your child is being bullied, stay alert to other possible problems that your child may be experiencing serious problems that could cause depression, social isolation, and loss of interest in school and share your concerns with a school counselor or psychologist.
Working in the Community
A crossing guard helps a childBullying can be prevented, especially when the power of a community is brought together. Community-wide strategies can help identify and support children who are bullied, redirect the behavior of children who bully, and change the attitudes of adults and youth who tolerate bullying behaviors in peer groups, schools, and communities.
The Benefits of Working Together
Bullying doesnt happen only at school. Community members can use their unique strengths and skills to prevent bullying wherever it occurs. For example, youth sports groups may train coaches to prevent bullying. Local businesses may make t-shirts with bullying prevention slogans for an event. After-care staff may read books about bullying to kids and discuss them. Hearing anti-bullying messages from the different adults in their lives can reinforce the message for kids that bullying is unacceptable.
Involve anyone who wants to learn about bullying and reduce its impact in the community. Consider involving businesses, local associations, adults who work directly with kids, parents, and youth.
Study community strengths and needs:
Develop a comprehensive community strategy:
Helping kids deal with bullies
Kayla, 13, thought things were going well at her new school, since all the popular girls were being so nice to her. But then she found out that one of them had posted mean rumors about her. Kayla cried herself to sleep that night and started going to the nurse's office complaining of a stomachache to avoid the girls in study hall.
Unfortunately, the kind of bullying that Seth and Kayla experienced is widespread. In national surveys, most kids and teens say that bullying happens at school.
A bully can turn something like going to the bus stop or recess into a nightmare for kids. Bullying can leave deep emotional scars. And in extreme situations, it can involve violent threats, property damage, or someone getting seriously hurt.
If your child is being bullied, you want to act to help stop it, if possible. In addition, there are ways to help your child cope with teasing, bullying, or mean gossip, and lessen its lasting impact. And even if bullying isn't an issue right in your house right now, it's important to discuss it so your kids will be prepared if it does happen.
Most kids have been teased by a sibling or a friend at some point. And it's not usually harmful when done in a playful, friendly, and mutual way, and both kids find it funny. But when teasing becomes hurtful, unkind, and constant, it crosses the line into bullying and needs to stop.
Bullying is intentional tormenting in physical, verbal, or psychological ways. It can range from hitting, shoving, name-calling, threats, and mocking to extorting money and possessions. Some kids bully by shunning others and spreading rumors about them. Others use social media or electronic messaging to taunt others or hurt their feelings.
It's important to take bullying seriously and not just brush it off as something that kids have to "tough out." The effects can be serious and affect kids' sense of safety and self-worth. In severe cases, bullying has contributed to tragedies, such as suicides and school shootings.
Why Kids Bully
Kids bully for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they pick on kids because they need a victim someone who seems emotionally or physically weaker, or just acts or appears different in some way to feel more important, popular, or in control. Although some bullies are bigger or stronger than their victims, that's not always the case.
Sometimes kids torment others because that's the way they've been treated. They may think their behavior is normal because they come from families or other settings where everyone regularly gets angry and shouts or calls each other names. Some popular TV shows even seem to promote meanness people are "voted off," shunned, or ridiculed for their appearance or lack of talent.
Signs of Bullying
Unless your child tells you about bullying or has visible bruises or injuries it can be difficult to figure out if it's happening.
But there are some warning signs. Parents might notice kids acting differently or seeming anxious, or not eating, sleeping well, or doing the things they usually enjoy. When kids seem moodier or more easily upset than usual, or when they start avoiding certain situations (like taking the bus to school), it might be because of a bully.
If you suspect bullying but your child is reluctant to open up, find opportunities to bring up the issue in a more roundabout way. For instance, you might see a situation on a TV show and use it as a conversation starter by asking, "What do you think of this?" or "What do you think that person should have done?" This might lead to questions like: "Have you ever seen this happen?" or "Have you ever experienced this?" You might want to talk about any experiences you or another family member had at that age.
Let your kids know that if they're being bullied or harassed or see it happening to someone else it's important to talk to someone about it, whether it's you, another adult (a teacher, school counselor, or family friend), or a sibling.
If your child tells you about being bullied, listen calmly and offer comfort and support. Kids are often reluctant to tell adults about bullying because they feel embarrassed and ashamed that it's happening, or worry that their parents will be disappointed, upset, angry, or reactive.
Sometimes kids feel like it's their own fault, that if they looked or acted differently it wouldn't be happening. Sometimes they're scared that if the bully finds out that they told, it will get worse. Others are worried that their parents won't believe them or do anything about it. Or kids worry that their parents will urge them to fight back when they're scared to.
Praise your child for doing the right thing by talking to you about it. Remind your child that he or she isn't alone a lot of people get bullied at some point. Emphasize that it's the bully who is behaving badly not your child. Reassure your child that you will figure out what to do about it together.
Let someone at school (the principal, school nurse, or a counselor or teacher) know about the situation. They are often in a position to monitor and take steps to prevent further problems.
Because the term "bullying" might be used to describe such a wide range of situations, there's no one-size-fits all approach. What is advisable in one situation may not be appropriate in another. Many factors such as the age of the kids involved, the severity of the situation, and the specific type of bullying behaviors will help determine the best course of action.
Take it seriously if you hear that the bullying will get worse if the bully finds out that your child told or if threats of physical harm are involved. Sometimes it's useful to approach the bully's parents. But in most cases, teachers or counselors are the best ones to contact first. If you've tried those methods and still want to speak to the bullying child's parents, it's best to do so in a context where a school official, such as a counselor, can mediate.
Most schools have bullying policies and anti-bullying programs. In addition, many states have bullying laws and policies. Find out about the laws in your community. In certain cases, if you have serious concerns about your child's safety, you may need to contact legal authorities.
Advice for Kids
Parents can help kids learn how to deal with bullying if it happens. For some parents, it may be tempting to tell a kid to fight back. After all, you're angry that your child is suffering and maybe you were told to "stand up for yourself" when you were young. Or you may worry that your child will continue to suffer at the hands of the bully, and think that fighting back is the only way to put a bully in his or her place.
But it's important to advise kids not to respond to bullying by fighting or bullying back. It can quickly escalate into violence, trouble, and someone getting injured. Instead, it's best to walk away from the situation, hang out with others, and tell an adult.
Here are some other strategies to discuss with kids that can help improve the situation and make them feel better:
Dealing with bullying can erode a child's confidence. To help restore it, encourage your kids to spend time with friends who have a positive influence. Participation in clubs, sports, or other enjoyable activities builds strength and friendships.
Provide a listening ear about difficult situations, but encourage your kids to also tell you about the good parts of their day, and listen equally attentively. Make sure they know you believe in them and that you'll do what you can to address any bullying that occurs.
Signs of Bullying - Warning Signs that Your Child is Being
Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Typically, it is repeated over time. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting and/or punching (physical bullying); teasing or name-calling (verbal bullying); intimidation using gestures or social exclusion (nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying); and sending insulting messages by phone or computer e-mail (cyberbullying). Many children, particularly boys and older children, do not tell their parents or adults at school about being bullied, so it's important that adults are vigilant to possible signs of bullying. Here's a guide to recognizing the signs of bullying, and getting it to stop.
Possible warning signs that a child is being bullied include:
Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time
Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs)
Takes a long, "illogical" route when walking to or from school
Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school
Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments
Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
Experiences a loss of appetite
Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem
What to do if you suspect that your child is being bullied?
If your child shows any of these signs, this does not necessarily mean that he or she is being bullied, but it is a possibility worth exploring. What should you do? Talk with your child and talk with staff at school to learn more.
1. Talk with your child.
Tell your child that you are concerned and that youd like to help. Here are some questions that can get the discussion going:
Some direct questions:
"Im worried about you. Are there any kids at school who may be picking on you or bullying you?"
"Are there any kids at school who tease you in a mean way?"
"Are there any kids at school who leave you out or exclude you on purpose?"
Some subtle questions:
"Do you have any special friends at school this year? Who are they? Who do you hang out with?"
"Who do you sit with at lunch and on the bus?"
"Are there any kids at school who you really dont like? Why dont you like them? Do they ever pick on you or leave you out of things?"
2. Talk with staff at your childs school.
Call or set up an appointment to talk with your childs teacher. He or she will probably be in the best position to understand the relationships between your child and other peers at school. Share your concerns about your child and ask the teacher such questions as:
"How does my child get along with other students in his or her class?"
"With whom does he or she spend free time?"
"Have you noticed or have you ever suspected that my child is bullied by other students?" Give examples of some ways that children can be bullied to be sure that the teacher is not focusing only on one kind of bullying (such as physical bullying).
Ask the teacher to talk with other adults who interact with your child at school (such as the music teacher, physical education teacher, or bus driver) to see whether they have observed students bullying your child.
If you are not comfortable talking with your childs teacher, or if you are not satisfied with the conversation, make an appointment to meet with your childs guidance counselor or principal to discuss your concerns.
If you obtain information from your child or from staff at your childs school that leads you to believe that he or she is being bullied, take quick action. Bullying can have serious effects on children.
If, after talking with your child and staff at his or her school, you dont suspect that your child is being bullied, stay vigilant to other possible problems that your child may be having. Some of the warning signs above (e.g., depression, social isolation, and loss of interest in school) may be signs of other serious problems. Share your concerns with a counselor at your childs school.
Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. NY: Blackwell.
Olweus, D., Limber, S., & Mihalic, S. (1999). The Bullying Prevention Program: Blueprints for violence prevention. Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence.
Bullying: How to Talk With Educators at Your Child's School
Stop Bullying Now! U.S. Department of Health and Human Services HRSA
Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power and strength. Parents are often reluctant to report to educators that their child is being bullied. Why?
Parents may be unsure how best to help their child and may be afraid that they will make the situation worse if they report bullying.
They may be embarrassed that their child is being bullied.
Sometimes, children ask parents not to report bullying.
Parents may fear being seen as overprotective.
They may believe that it is up to their child to stop the bullying.
Children and youth often need help to stop bullying. Parents should never be afraid to call the school to report that their child is being bullied and ask for help to stop the bullying. Students should not have to tolerate bullying at school any more than adults would tolerate similar treatment at work.
The school's responsibility
All children are entitled to courteous and respectful treatment by students and staff at school. Educators have a duty to ensure that students have a safe learning environment. Fortunately, most educators take their responsibilities to stop bullying very seriously. Several states have passed anti-bullying laws and require public schools to have an antibullying program in place. Ask for a copy of your school's policy or check the student handbook to see whether your school has policies that will help resolve the problem.
Working with your child's school to solve the problem
If your child tells you that he or she has been bullied or if you suspect your child is being bullied, what can you do?
Keep a written record of all bullying incidents that your child reports to you. Record the names of the children involved, where and when the bullying occurred, and what happened.
Immediately ask to meet with your child's classroom teacher and explain your concerns in a friendly, non confrontational way. ?Ask the teacher about his or her observations:
?Has he or she noticed or suspected bullying?
?How is your child getting along with others in class?
Has he or she noticed that your child is being isolated, excluded from playground or other activities with students?
Ask the teacher what he or she intends to do to investigate and help to stop the bullying.
If you are concerned about how your child is coping with the stress of being bullied, ask to speak with your child's guidance counselor or other school-based mental health professional.
Set up a follow-up appointment with the teacher to discuss progress.
If there is no improvement after reporting bullying to your child's teacher, speak with the school principal.
Keep notes from your meetings with teachers and administrators.
What can you expect staff at your child's school to do about bullying?
School staff should investigate the bullying immediately. After investigating your concerns, they should inform you as to what they plan to do about it.
School staff should never have a joint meeting with your child and the child who bullied them. This could be very embarrassing and intimidating for your child. They should not refer the children to mediation. Bullying is a form of victimization, not a conflict. It should not be mediated.
Staff should meet with your child to learn about the bullying that he or she has experienced. They should develop a plan to help keep your child safe, and they should be watchful for any future bullying. Educators should assure your child that they will work hard to see that the bullying stops.
School personnel should meet with the children who are suspected of taking part in the bullying. They should make it clear to these children that bullying is against school rules and will not be tolerated. If appropriate, they should administer consequences (such as a loss of recess privileges) to the children who bullied and notify their parents.
Educators and parents should be careful not to "blame the victim." Bullying is never the "fault" of the child who is bullied, and he or she shouldn't be made to feel responsible for being bullied. However, if your child is impulsive or lacks social skills, talk with a school counselor. It is possible that some students who are bullying your child are reacting out of annoyance. This doesn't make the bullying right, but it may help to explain why your child is being bullied.
Give the school reasonable time to investigate and hear both sides of the story. Sometimes, a child who bullies will make false allegations about a child as an additional way of bullying them. Educators should not jump to hasty conclusions and assign blame without a thorough assessment of the situation. This entire process should not take longer than a week.
If bullying continues, write to the school's principal or administrator and include evidence from your notes to back up your complaint. Putting a complaint in writing is important so there is a record of your concern.
Most administrators and staff are responsive to bullying concerns. However, if your school administrator is unable or unwilling to stop the bullying, write to your school superintendent for assistance.
Be persistent. You may need to keep speaking out about the bullying that your child experiences.
When should law enforcement become involved?
Consider involving the police if another child has physically assaulted your child or is seriously threatening him or her with bodily injury.
If the problem persists or escalates and your school officials are unable to stop the bullying, you may want to consult an attorney.
Ask the school to keep a written record of all offenses committed against your child in case law enforcement officials need the information for further complaints.
Bullying happens in every school, but with an effective bullying prevention program, bullying can be reduced. If your child is being bullied, chances are that there are other children in the school who are having similar experiences.
If your school does not have official anti-bullying policies or an active bullying prevention program, work with other parents and your school officials to develop one.