Warning Signs

A culture of silence often surrounds bullying. Many children who are bullied never tell anyone. 

Most bullying is not reported because children . . .

  • Don’t recognize it as bullying
  • Are embarrassed
  • Don’t want to appear weak
  • Believe they deserve it
  • Want to belong
  • Fear retaliation
  • Don’t know how to talk about it
  • Don’t have a trusted adult to confide in
  • Think adults won’t understand
  • Think nothing can be done about it 

Just because you don’t see it, and children don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean bullying isn’t happening. Even when children fail to report bullying, they often show warning signs.

What are some warning signs of bullying?

  • Unexplained damage or loss of clothing and other personal items
  • Evidence of physical abuse, such as bruises and scratches
  • Loss of friends; changes in friends
  • Reluctance to participate in activities with peers
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Unusually sad, moody, anxious, lonely, or depressed
  • Problems with eating, sleeping, bed-wetting
  • Headaches, stomachaches, or other physical complaints
  • Decline in school achievement
  • Thoughts of suicide

Some children may withdraw, while others may get angry and seek revenge. Don’t assume the problem will go away on its own: Invite children to talk about what is bothering them. If you find out a child is being bullied, show support, help develop a response strategy, and follow up to make sure the bullying does not continue. 

For more information on how to respond, see Strategies.

TOOLKIT

Toolkit Cover

Girl looking very upset

 

Look out. Pay careful attention to the warning signs of bullying. Watch and listen carefully, especially if the signs escalate.

Sad boy

 

Young girl with a sad face