Identifying Kids Bullying or Being Bullied

The painful and humiliating effects of bullying can have serious and sometimes lasting effects on everyone involved. In extreme cases, bullying can lead to violence or even suicide.

Children who are bullied frequently often do not know how to respond. They struggle with name-calling, put-downs, or being excluded. They may:

  • Lose confidence and not want to go to school anymore.
  • Find it difficult to focus in class and remember what they learn.
  • Experience anxiety that causes health concerns such as stomach-aches, headaches, panic attacks, sleeplessness or exhaustion.
  • Develop serious concerns like helplessness and depression.

Those who witness acts of bullying may be afraid of becoming the next victim so might avoid getting involved or finding help. This can lead to feelings of helplessness and guilt.

Children who bully and learn they can get away with it develop a pattern of harmful behaviour that can continue into adulthood – sometimes becoming involved in dating aggression, sexual harassment or criminal activity.

Bullying behaviour may be obvious or it may be hidden – it’s sometimes difficult to recognize. The following questions may help you tell if your child is being bullied:

  • Is your child complaining of being poorly treated?
  • Have you noticed signs of changed behaviour? Sleeplessness? Loss of appetite? Frequent illnesses, headaches or stomach-aches? Self-injury?
  • Has your child run away from home?
  • Are others sending negative messages to your child? Are they posting inappropriate images or videos of your child online?
  • Does your child appear sad, moody, anxious or depressed when they come home?
  • Is your child unwilling/afraid to leave the house, wanting to change their route to school, or skip school?
  • Have they lost interest in visiting or talking with friends?
  • Have you heard them blaming themselves for problems or talking about dropping out of school, feeling inadequate or ending their life?
  • Is your child coming home missing personal items or with torn clothes and unexplained injuries?
  • Is your child talking about responding to other students’ behaviour in a threatening or aggressive way?
  • Have your child’s grades dropped dramatically?

The following are signs that your child could be bullying others:

  • Physically or verbally violent with others.
  • Frequently gets sent to the principal’s office or detention for fighting or other aggressive behaviour.
  • Has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained.
  • Is quick to blame others.
  • Will not accept responsibility for their actions.
  • Has friends who bully others.
  • Needs to win or be the best at everything.

Do your part to recognize bullying and work with others – students, parents, families, school/district staff and community members – to deal with it.

Learn more about how to help keep our schools safe from bullying, harassment and intimidation: