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Recognizing the Warning Signs of Bullying

It’s not always easy to tell if a child is being bullied at school or “cyber bullied” at home. Many children, especially in the middle and high school grades, are embarrassed about being bullied and don’t want to tell their parents or other adults.

But as a parent, there are warning signs you should be aware of if you suspect your child is being bullied. Does your child:

  1. Seem afraid to go to school, ride the bus or participate in school activities, sports or extra-curricular programs?
  2. Have unexplained physical injuries, typically scratches, bruises or cuts?
  3. Suddenly “lose” personal items or books, or come home with damaged clothing or other items?
  4. Exhibit a loss of interest in school, or are his or her grades suffering?
  5. Frequently become sick or complain of pain or illness, such as headaches and stomach aches?
  6. Suffer from prolonged or frequent insomnia and sleep disturbances?
  7. Demonstrate anxious or nervous behavior related to riding the bus or walking to and from school? Does he or she try to find alternate routes or transportation and avoid the most logical route?
  8. Have trouble making or keeping friends, or seem to be alone most of the time?
  9. Seem to lack self-confidence?
  10. Show signs of depression and moodiness, particularly immediately before and after school?
If after observing your child over a period of time you answer “Yes,” to one or more of the questions above, it is important that you talk to your child about your concerns. A child displaying any of these signs is not necessarily a victim of bullying, but you should discuss what may be negatively affecting them.

If you discover your child is being bullied, you’ll want to help your son or daughter deal with the problem right away. If you determine your child is not being bullied but clearly shows some of the above signs, there may be other critical social, emotional or physical issues at hand that should not be addressed immediately.


Illinois Kids First Press Center