Approximately one in four children are bullied in school each year. Often, children don’t disclose that they’re being bullied – some because they’re afraid, others because they feel ashamed or embarrassed. But you, as a parent, likely have your suspicions. You see the changes in your child. You know that something is amiss.
These 8 warning signs could indicate that the problem is, in fact, a school bully.
- Unexplained Injuries
- If your child is coming home with unexplained injuries – bumps on the head, scrapes and bruises – and you’re not getting answers, it could be a sign of bullying.
- Frequent Stomach Aches and Headaches
- Generalized aches and pains, like stomach aches and headaches, are a common complaint among bullied children. They are especially prominent in the morning, when it’s time for your child to go to school. You may have even written these symptoms off in the beginning, assuming that your child was “faking it” because they didn’t want to go to school, but these ailments are often a sign of stress. And a warning sign that your child is being bullied.
- Loss or Destroyed Personal Items
If your child is coming home with damaged personal items – books, their backpack, clothing – or these items are frequently getting “lost,” it could be a sign that they are being bullied. Bullies often take or destroy the personal items of their victims.
Declining Grades or Academic Performance
Bullying can have a negative impact on your child’s self esteem, which can cause them to lose interest in school and school-teated activities. If you can’t find another source for this declining performance, it may be time to look at what’s going on at school.
Changes in Eating or Hygiene Habits
If you notice that your child is never really hungry, or seems to come home hungry, it could be a sign of bullying. The lack of appetite is an indication of depression, which means the bullying may have been going on for a while. Coming home hungry and not eating at school could indicate that the bullies are bothering them at lunch (or stealing their lunch or lunch money).
Changes in hygiene, such as your child suddenly not brushing their teeth or showering, could also indicate they are being bullied at school.
Self-Destructive Behaviors or Regression
Bullied children often regress, going back to tantrums, thumb-sucking, or bedwetting. They may even start displaying self-destructive behavior, such as running away from home or skipping school. This happens, even with younger children, so hopefully you notice the signs before things get too out of hand.
Nightmares and Difficulty Sleeping
Sleeping problems, such as insomnia, trouble falling asleep, and nightmares are extremely common in bullied children. If your child is up at night, or having frequent nightmares, it may be time to probe further into their life at school.
Avoidance of Social Situations and Diminished Self Esteem
Bullying can significantly diminish a child’s self esteem – so much so that they seem helpless and hopeless. They may even intentionally avoid social situations, particularly when it involves same-aged peers. Those headaches and stomach aches may even pop up.
Think Your Child is Being Bullied? Take the Next Step
If your child is displaying one or more of these warning signs, it may be time to call a meeting with your child’s teacher. Try to gain insight to your child’s situation. See if the teacher has noticed any issues. If not, you may have to amp up your efforts.
Talk to your child. Try to get them to talk about what’s going on – but don’t approach the subject too directly. Instead, point out what you’re seeing that’s making you concerned, express that you are, in fact, worried, and ask them if there’s anything you should know. Perhaps they’ll open up.
If not, you may have to get investigative to determine the root of your child’s problems. Volunteering at the school could give you some insight. You could drop by and bring your child lunch, and if they’re taking the bus or walking to school, you may want to consider taking them to school yourself. Stick with it. Keep talking to your child. You’ll get to the bottom of the issue.