There are many warning signs that may tell that your child is being bullied in school. Being able to identify these signs is a crucial step in taking action against bullying. Children who are being bullied often times find it difficult to ask for help. Bullies are known to threaten those they pick – they say things like “if you tell anyone I hit you, I’ll kill you” “if you talk about this to anyone, I will deny it.” Those who witness such gruesome acts are also forced to stay silent because they do not want to become victims. It is important to have conversations with kids that show signs of being bullied. The warning signs might also point to other issues like anxiety, substance abuse, or depression. Talking to the child can help identify the root of the problem.
Bullying is an intentional, aggressive, and repeated behavior that involves an imbalance of power or strength. It can be done in various forms, the one we are conversant with is physical bullying where a child is beaten, punched, hit, kicked, or slapped. Other forms of bullying include:
- Emotional (intimidation using gestures, social exclusion, threats)
- Verbal (teasing, name-calling, threats)
- Cyberbullying (online harassment, hate messages, threats, impersonation, and other digital abuse)
- Racist Bullying
Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:
- Your child comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
- Constant complaints of headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick, or faking illness
- Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals. Kids may come home from school hungry or complain of stolen lunch.
- Experiences a loss of appetite
- Finds or makes up excuses as to why they can’t go to school
- Refuses to go to school, ride the school bus, or engage in activities with peers
- Declining grades or loss of interest in schoolwork
- Lack of friends with whom he or she spends time
- Feelings of anxiety or decreased self-esteem
- Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
How to react if you suspect your child is being bullied
If your child displays any of the above signs, he or she is probably a victim of bullying. It is better you talk to them and also members of staff in the school to know what’s going on. When talking to your child, there are ways to know if he/she is being bullied without asking directly (they might be scared to come out clean because of the bully’s threat).
How to go about it:
“So I read about a boy that was bullied in the news today. Does that happen in your school?”
“Do you have kids in your class that picks on you?”
“I’m concerned about you. Do you have any kids at school who leave you out or exclude you on purpose?”
Also, questions like:
“Who is your best friend in school? Do you play with them? Do you share your lunch with them?”
“Who is your seat partner on the school bus? Are they also in your class?”
“Who don’t you like? Why don’t you like them? Do they pick on you?”
If after having this talk you discover your child is being bullied, do not get angry. Let them know that you are with them, and they should not hide anything from you no matter what and who might have threatened them. Talk with your kid’s/teen’s school. The teachers are in the best position to know the relationships between your child and their mates in their school.