Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Typically, it is repeated. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting or punching (physical bullying); teasing or namecalling (verbal bullying); intimidation through gestures or social exclusion (nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying); and sending insulting messages by phone or e-mail (cyber bullying). Many children, particularly boys and older children, do not tell their parents or adults at school about being bullied. It is important that adults watch for possible signs of bullying.
Possible warning signs that your child is being bullied:
- Comes home with torn, damaged or missing pieces of clothing 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 or unusual route when walking to or from school.
- Loses interest in schoolwork or suddenly begins to do poorly in school.
- Acts sad, moody, angry or depressed when he or she comes home.
- Complains often of headaches, stomachaches or has other physical symptoms.
- Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams.
- Doesn't feel like eating.
- Seems anxious or starts to say negative things about himself or herself.
If your son or daughter shows any of these signs, this does not absolutely mean that he or she is being bullied, but it is a possibility worth exploring. Talk with your child and talk with staff at school to learn more.
Tell your child that you are concerned and that you'd like to help. Listen carefully to your child's worries.
Call or set up an appointment to talk with your child's teacher. He or she will probably be in the best position to understand the relationships between your child and other peers at school. If you obtain information from your child or from staff at your child's school that lead 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 don't suspect that your child is being bullied, stay watchful for other possible problems that he or she may be having. A number of the warning signs listed above may be signs of other serious problems. Share your concerns with a counselor at your child's school.