Bullying is a serious problem in America’s schools, particularly in the digital age. Due to the anonymous nature of the internet, children face not only the prospect of traditional teasing in hallways and in the lunch room, but also through social media channels and applications.

Many different warning signs exist that a child might be a victim of bullying. Knowing the common signs is an important first step to helping the child affected. Parents, teachers, and other role models, such as coaches and scout leaders, should be aware of these warning signs and know how to deal with them.

Not all children speak out about bullying, and many will not ask for help. Social shaming, personality, and other factors all play a role in a child’s likeliness to report bulling. However, adults can be on the lookout for changes in a child that might indicate a problem.

Warning Signs

  • Ask about injuries without a viable explanation. A child might be tripping in a hallway or running into a door. However, repeated injuries without a sensible explanation might be the first warning signs of bullying.
  • Ask about misplaced personal possessions such as books, electronics, or keepsakes. They may not actually be misplaced; they might be stolen.
  • Look into frequent excuses for missing school like headaches, stomachaches, or faking illnesses. While some children want to miss classes for other reasons, this is often a sign of bullying, especially in children who previously enjoyed school.
  • Pay attention to changes in eating habits, like eating too much or too little. Some children may binge eat once they come home, which may be a response to stress or because someone stole their lunch. Others might skip meals in response to teasing about their weight.
  • Pay attention if your child starts having difficulty going to sleep or suddenly starts having nightmares.
  • Look into any sudden changes in academic performance, such as declining grades, a decrease in interest, declining homework.
  • Ask why your child is avoiding activities that were once pleasurable, such as extracurricular activities.
  • Look into the emergence of self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home or talk of self-harm or suicide.
  • Pay attention when a child withdraws from family conversations or activities.
  • Consider carefully any other uncharacteristic or suspicious change in behavior.

Why Don’t Kids Ask for Help?

Many children face bullying at school or online but are hesitant to ask for help. Knowing why children do not ask for help can help parents and other adults understand why bullying occurs and what to do about it.

  • In many cases, children do not want to be a “tattle tale.” They may feel weak willed or not in control of the situation when they tell an adult. To retain some semblance of autonomy, children may avoid reporting the bullying altogether.
  • Kids may fear retaliation from the child who is responsible for the bullying. In many cases, they may think reporting bullying will only make the situation worse.
  • Children who are victims of bullying may be more likely to be socially isolated. As a result, they may feel they don’t deserve friends or the help of an adult in this situation.
  • Kids may feel humiliated due to the emotional consequences of the bullying. They may not want to repeat what other children are saying to an adult because it contains embarrassing information about them.
  • Children may fear the lack of social support of their peers. Since friends can help protect against bullying, a child who is a victim of bullying may not want to lose this by telling an adult.

An Attorney Can Help

Bullying is a serious problem in school and online. By knowing the warning signs in children, parents can be better prepared to act against the responsible party and stop the abuse by telling the bully’s parents or school administration about the issue. If you believe your child’s school isn’t taking the necessary steps to eliminate bullying, contact our office to schedule a free consultation and learn more information about the legal steps you can take.