What every parent needs to know about bullying

  1. The person or group doing the bullying wants to harm or disturb the target. This is one of the ways teasing is different from bullying. Teasing is usually affectionate in nature and harm is not intended.
  2. The person or group doing the bullying has more power than the person being bullied. Difference in power can be size, age, status in the school or physical strength, to name a few examples. True teasing is a two-way street; sometimes one person in the relationship is teased, sometimes it is the other.
  3. For behavior to be thought of as bullying, it needs to happen more than once.

Types of bullying

  • Mental and emotional: examples include spreading rumors, leaving another child out, not sitting with them and giving someone the silent treatment.
  • Verbal: examples include calling someone names, threatening and making fun of another child.
  • Physical: examples include pushing, hitting, slapping and kicking.
  • Sexual: examples include groping another person, name-calling and spreading rumors.

While many adults first think of a child being physically picked on by a bigger child when the word "bullying" comes up, most children are more afraid of being the victim of other types of bullying. It is the other types of bullying, the kinds adults don’t notice as often, that can hurt children the most.

Warning signs your child is being bullied

  • Torn, damaged or missing clothing, books and belongings.
  • Bruises, injuries, cuts and scratches.
  • Classmates or other children are not brought home and he rarely spends time in the homes of other children.
  • Isolated from other children and he may not have a good friend to share time with.
  • Fearful about attending school, walking to and from school, or riding the bus.
  • Poor appetite, headaches, and stomach pains (particularly in the morning).
  • Chooses a longer route for going to and from school that "doesn’t make sense".
  • Asks for or takes extra money from family (money which may go to the bully).
  • Appears nervous, depressed, sad or tearful when he comes home from school.
  • Shows unexpected changes in mood, irritability or sudden outbursts of temper.
  • Has sleeping or eating problems.
  • Loses interest in school work and/or suddenly receives lower grades or shows signs of learning problems.
  • Talks about or attempts suicide.

What you can do if your child is being bullied

  • Encourage your child to share his problems with you. This is not tattling. Know that your child may be embarrassed, ashamed and fearful. Listen carefully and reassure him that he will not have to face the problem alone.
  • Praise and encourage your child. Help him take pride in his accomplishments and differences. A confident child is less likely to be targeted.
  • Search for talents and positive qualities that can be developed in your child. This may help a child to stand up for himself.
  • Help your child develop friendships. Encourage your child to meet and spend time with other children.
  • New friends can provide a new chance for a child who has been victimized.