11 Warning Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied

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by: Lindsay Hutton
Recent tragic events in the news have again brought to light how serious and devastating bullying can be. Aside from physical abuse, bullying can also include verbal abuse (taunting, teasing, and name-calling), emotional abuse (making someone the subject of rumors, social exclusion, and intimidation), and cyberbullying (intimidation or harassment via text messaging or social media). According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, at least half of all school-aged children will experience some form of bullying in their lives, with 10 percent of children being bullied regularly. Your child may not tell you if he is being bullied, which makes it even more important to know the warning signs and take action.
Sad child sitting against tree in park
Physical Signs
Perhaps the most obvious sign that your child is being bullied are unexplained physical marks on his body, such as bruises, scrapes, and other injuries. Be aware if your child starts frequently wearing long-sleeves, even in warm weather, as this could be a sign that he is trying to cover something up.

Physical ailments such as headaches and stomachaches are other possible indicators. Take note if your child frequently visits the nurse with these symptoms. Stress and anxiety from bullying might be the cause.

Boy being taunted
Lost or Damaged Personal Items
Kids can be clumsy and sometimes careless — we all know that. But, if your child frequently comes home with torn clothing, missing personal items (such as shoes, glasses, or jewelry), or damaged school items (such as his backpack or text books), something else might be going on.
Sad girl in park
Strange Bathroom Habits
Does your child wait until she gets home from school to use the bathroom? Although it may seem strange, it's a possible indicator of bullying. School bathrooms are often unsupervised, making them a hot-spot for bullying to occur.
Teen girl getting laughed at by friends
Sudden Loss of Friends
Chances are you know your child's pals — the kids he hangs around with after school, works on homework and school projects with, and who call every night. Take note if your child suddenly stops talking to her closest friends and begins to avoid social situations. It can be a red flag that her friends have formed a clique and excluded her, or that she's become a target.
Sad teen girl with head in hands
Change in Eating Habits
Most kids come home from school ready for a snack, but if you child continuously comes home absolutely ravenous, it could be because she didn't eat lunch. Many acts of bullying occur in the lunchroom. Additionally, binge eating or loss of appetite could be an indication of emotional distress in your child.
Bullied girl in classroom
Drastic Changes in Self-Esteem
All children have their highs and lows, but a dramatic change in your child's personality and self-esteem should raise some concern. A child who continually comes home sad, depressed, or teary-eyed could be facing some form of emotional or verbal harassment at school .

Children who experience bullying might also become clingy, develop a fear of certain people, express that they aren't "good enough," or become afraid to be alone.

Sad teen boy leaning against steps
Self-Destructive Behaviors
The low self-esteem and depression that stems from bullying can cause a child to start engaging in self-destructive behaviors. Any talk of self-harm or suicide is a major red flag and should be addressed immediately. Contact the National Suicide Hotline for help.
Frustrated girl with head on desk doing homework
Decline in School Performance
Of course not all children jump out of bed excited to go to school every day, but if your child continuously wants to skip school or fakes illnesses, something more may be going on that she isn't telling you. Signs of slipping grades, trouble concentrating, and lack of focus should also sound your alarm.
Worried teen sitting at computer
Emotional Response to Going Online
In this era of constant communication, kids who are bullied no longer get a break once school lets out for the day. Bullying can continue online and over text messaging. If your child continually gets upset or becomes withdrawn after being online or using his phone, it could be a sign that she is facing these behaviors even when she's at home. If you suspect your child is being bullied online, consider using software that can help track cyberbullying.
Teen girl being excluded by her friends
Changes in Routine or Interests
Keep an eye out for sudden changes in interests or commitments, such as skipping sports practices or suddenly dropping out of an after-school activity. While your child might have truly lost interest, she could be trying to avoid confrontations and abuse.
Sad teen boy laying on bed
Difficulty Sleeping
Inability to sleep, frequent nightmares, and bedwetting could all be indications that something is troubling your child. If sleep issues are coupled with the other signs mentioned, it could mean something serious is going on.

Bullying is a serious issue and should not be tolerated. If you feel your child is displaying signs of being bullied, you can do something to help. Read these 8 ways to bully-proof your child, communicate with your child's teacher, and educate yourself on the anti-bullying laws and legislation in your state. Visit stopbullying.gov for more information on how to get help and talk to your child.