Signs of Bullying This Emotional Life on PBS

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Bullying

		

Children & bullying

When it comes to bullying, parents and other adults may be the last to know.

Bullying generally happens when adults aren’t around in the halls, at recess, and after school. And kids often don’t talk about it. Sometimes kids are afraid it will get worse if adults are involved, or they keep quiet thinking their parents will be disappointed because other kids don’t seem to like them. Or they think they might be blamed somehow. This makes it even more important for parents to pay attention to clues that a child might be a victim of bullying.

Warning signs

Warning signs

If you think your child might be experiencing bullying, these are the signs to watch for (adapted from a Department of State Health Services guide).

Your child exhibits the following signs:

  • Comes home with dirty, torn, or wet clothes or “loses” things without being able to explain what happened
  • Has unexplained bruises, cuts and scratches, or other injuries
  • Loses interest in school and gets poor grades
  • Does not bring friends home or visit with friends after school
  • Seems afraid or refuses to go to school
  • Takes an “illogical” route to school
  • Seems unhappy, downhearted, depressed or moody, or has sudden outbursts of anger
  • Eats poorly or complains of headaches or stomachaches
  • Sleeps poorly, cries out in his sleep or has nightmares
  • Asks for extra money (because a bully is demanding it)

Harmful effects

Harmful effects

Headaches, stomachaches, loneliness, depression, suicide: from physical to emotional, short term to long term, bullying takes its toll. Kids who see or experience bullying certainly feel the impacts, and may even lash out with anger and violence. But research also shows that those who bully suffer consequences as well.

On bullies
Beyond harming others, children who bully are often harming themselves and their future potential. Communities also suffer. Children who bully without consequences have a greater chance of committing crimes as teenagers and into adulthood.

On victims
In addition to feeling lonely, depressed and bad about himself, a child or teenager who is being bullied might report being sick with headaches and stomachaches or other complaints. The sickness may be real, or a child might feel more comfortable saying he doesn’t feel well than reporting a bully.

School performance
When a child is worried about being hit, made fun of, or talked about behind her back, learning can take a backseat. From not paying attention in class to flatly refusing to go to school, children who experience bullying tend to have trouble keeping up and schoolwork and grades may suffer.

On witnesses
Standing by while a classmate gets taunted or joining in on the laughter at someone else’s expense is no picnic either. Who wants to be in school when it’s a place where you feel guilty for not helping a classmate or are wondering if you’ll be the next victim?

 

Find Help

Locate mental health and well-being support organizations in your area.