How to know your child is being bullied
Bullying: What is it?
Bullying is when someone purposefully and consistently frightens, threatens, or harms another person, their possessions, reputation, or personal relationships.
Bullying may take the following forms:
Pushing, tripping, or assaulting someone, or stealing from them or ruining their property are all examples of cruel behaviour. It also includes intentionally neglecting someone or leaving them out of sports or events, as well as encouraging others to do the same.
Bullying can take place in person. It can also occur online, for instance, if kids send hurtful texts or make derogatory comments about other people on social media. This is online harassment.
Bullying hurts everyone. When it persists, it may hurt someone permanently.
If friends or peers disagree or even argue, or if someone says something mean once, it can be unpleasant and even nasty. But it isn’t bullying. Bullying is mean and hurtful behaviour that happens over and over again.
Spotting signs of bullying
Your child might tell you that they’re being bullied. For example, your child might say that other children are teasing them, making fun of them, putting them down, laughing at them, calling them names, ignoring them, physically harming or threatening them.
If your child doesn’t say anything but you’re worried, here are some signs to look out for.
A reluctance to go to school in the morning
Because school is a hot spot for bullying, a child’s reluctance to wake up and head out in the morning could signal that something is amiss. With younger children, watch for recurring excuses to stay home, such as aches and pains, or frequent calls from the school nurse requesting an early pickup. With adolescents and teens, check in with teachers periodically to monitor attendance, as this age group is more likely to skip school altogether.
- Your child 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 organised activities with peers
- Finds or makes up excuses as to why they can’t go to school
- Takes a long out of the way 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 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 what’s going on.
When talking with your child, don’t just ask if they’re being bullied.
A better way to approach it is to say:
- “I’ve heard a lot about bullying in the news. Is that going on at your school?”
- “I’m 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 don’t like? Why don’t you like them? Do they ever pick on you or leave you out of things?”
Do not overreact if your children or teenagers are being bullied. Tell them you love them, this is not your fault, and you’ll take care of them. Tell them that they are welcome to chat to you about anything.
Speak with your child’s or teen’s school. To speak with their teacher, make a phone call or schedule a meeting. The interactions between your child and other students at their school are probably best understood by teachers.
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