Do You Know the Signs of Bullying?

Despite the increased attention bullying has received in recent years, the number of children being bullied remains on the rise. One out of every four children will be the victim of bullying at some point in their adolescence, according to statistics complied by the American Justice Department. As if parents didn’t have a hard enough time trying to protect their children from bullying at school, they must now also worry about trying to protect them at home.

The interconnectivity that social media provides now allows bullying to take place outside of the classroom and playgrounds. Approximately 42 percent of kids have been bullied while online, and over 58 percent of children report that someone has written something mean about them online. A staggering 77 percent of children in school admit to having been the victim of some form of bullying, either online or in person.

Experts agree, the best way to deal with and help prevent bullying is for children to report bullying to an adult after it happens. Unfortunately, incidences of bullying often go unreported to either a parent or a teacher, as 58 percent of children surveyed by the Internet safety firm iSafe admitted to never confiding in an adult about being bullied.


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Since parents can’t rely on their children coming forward, they must always be on the look out for signs that their child is being bullied. For a parent to know if their child is being bullied, they must first understand what constitutes bullying, and how being bullied might affect their child’s behavior.

What is Bullying?


At its root, bullying occurs when one person attempts to harm or scare another. This can take the form as either an act of physical violence or as emotional taunting. In children, bullying often occurs when one child begins to pick on another they believe weaker or more alone than others.

For girls, bullying generally manifests as emotional attacks that leave the bullied girl feelings isolated or cast out from a larger group. Between girls, bullying often occurs with the spreading of rumors or name calling. For boys, bullying can include emotional and physical attacks, such as pushing, hitting, or tripping. While less frequent, girls can also be the victims of physical bullying. A survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice found that 26 percent of girls admitted to taking part in a physical altercation with another student, while 46 percent of boys reported the same.

The Signs of Bullying


Children who become the victim of bullying often begin to show several telltale signs of the abuse. Parents who think their child might be the victim of bullying should look for any of the following signs:

  • Comes home with torn or damaged clothing, or returns missing items of clothing, books, or other personal belongings
  • Comes home with unexplained bruises, cuts, scraps, or other physical signs of an altercation
  • Your child has few friends they spend time with outside of school
  • They take long, illogical routes to and from school
  • Always seems reluctant to go to school, or spend time socializing with kids their own age
  • A loss of interest in school work and the declining of grades
  • Your child has become unusually sullen, withdrawn, moody, or depressed
  • Frequently invents excuses or illnesses that would prevent them from attending school
  • Trouble sleeping and loss of appetite
  • Constantly appears anxious or nervous

What Can You Do?


If you suspect your child is the victim of bullying, begin by talking with your child about any problems they are having at school. Ask your child directly if anyone at school has been picking on them, or has made them feel excluded. If your child seems hesitant to answer these questions, ask them indirect questions that will provide you with a better idea of what their school life is like. Find out who they eat lunch with, who their friends are at school, and ask if there are any kids at school they don’t like or get along with. Talk with your child’s teachers about their behavior in class, and whether or not the teacher has noticed any signs of bullying.

Encourage your child to stand up to their bully by talking back. Have your child practice saying statements like “Leave me alone” or “I’m not afraid of you” in a calm, confident voice. Also encourage your child never to walk or run way from their bully no matter how scared they may be, and explain that by standing their ground, they show the bully they’re not afraid of them. Finally, always encourage your child to find and tell an adult about any incidence of bullying.

Bullying can be stopped, but only if parents or teachers are made aware when it’s happening.

Timothy Lemke writes about family issues for the blog of Dr. Sarah Barber, a Vancouver WA dentist at Smile Family Dental.

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