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Bullying Prevention

Recognizing the Signs of Bullying

Signs a child is being bullied…

  • Comes home with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings
  • Reports losing items such as books, electronics, clothing, or jewelry
  • Has unexplained injuries
  • Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or feeling sick
  • Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
  • Has changes in eating habits
  • Hurts themselves
  • Are very hungry after school from not eating their lunch
  • Runs away from home
  • Loses interest in visiting or talking with friends
  • Is afraid of going to school or other activities with peers
  • Loses interest in school work or begins to do poorly in school
  • Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed when they come home
  • Talks about suicide
  • Feels helpless
  • Often feels like they are not good enough
  • Blames themselves for their problems
  • Suddenly has fewer friends
  • Avoids certain places
  • Acts differently than usual
  • Signs a child is bullying…
  • Becomes violent with others
  • Gets into physical or verbal  fights with others
  • Gets sent to the principal’s office or detention a lot
  • 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 best at everything

Know the Effects of Bullying

People who are bullied…

  • Have higher risk of depression and anxiety, including the following symptoms, that may persist into adulthood:
  • Increased feelings of sadness and loneliness
  • Changes in sleep and eating patterns
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Have increased thoughts about suicide that may persist into adulthood.  In one study, adults who recalled being bullied in youth were 3 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or inclinations.
    Are more likely to have health complaints.  In one study, being bullied was associated with physical health status 3 years later.
  • Have decreased academic achievement (GPA and standardized test scores) and school participation.
  • Are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
  • Are more likely to retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.

People who bully others…

  • Have a higher risk of abusing alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults.
  • Are more likely to get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school.
  • Are more likely to engage in early sexual activity.
  • Are more likely to have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults.  In one study, 60% of boys who bullied others in middle school had a criminal conviction by age 24.
  • Are more likely to be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses or children as adults.

What should you do if you are being bullied?

Everyone…

  • Do not blame yourself. It is easy to question whether you are the problem.  But no matter what someone says or does, you should not be ashamed of who you are or what you feel.
  • Be proud of who you are.   No matter what they say, there are wonderful things about you.  Keep those in mind instead of the disrespectful messages you get from the people who are bullying you.
  • Do not be afraid to get help. Sometimes it helps to just talk to someone who is not personally involved.  Teachers, counselors, and others are there to help.  Seeing a counselor or other professional does not mean there is something wrong with you.

Kids…

  • Speak up against bullying. Say something like, “stop it.”
  • Walk away. Act like you do not care, even if you really do.
  • Tell an adult you trust. They may have ideas about what you can do.
  • Stick together. Staying with a group might help.
  • Remember.
    • You are not alone.
    • It is not your fault. Nobody should be bullied!
    • Talk to someone you trust.
    • Do not hurt yourself.
    • Do not bully back. Do not bully anyone else.
    • Do not let the bully win.  Keep doing what you love to do.

Teens…

  • Tell them to stop. 
  • Walk away. Do not let them get to you. If you walk away or ignore them, they will not get that satisfaction.
  • Protect yourself. Sometimes you cannot walk away. If you are being physically hurt, protect yourself so that you can get away.
  • Tell an adult you trust. Talking to someone could help you figure out the best ways to deal with the problem.  In some cases, adults need to get involved for the bullying to stop.
  • Find a safe place. Go somewhere that you feel safe and secure like the library, a favorite teacher’s classroom, or the office.
  • Stick together. Stay with a group or individuals that you trust.
  • Find opportunities to make new friends. Explore your interests and join school or community activities such as sports, drama, or art. Volunteer or participate in community service.

Young Adults…

  • Tell them to stop.
  • Do not blame yourself.  Remember that no matter what someone says, you should not be ashamed of who you are or what you feel.
  • Be proud of who you are.
  • Talk with someone you trust.  Talking to someone could help you figure out the best ways to deal with the problem. Reach out to family members and friends you trust to discuss the problem.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help.  Talking to a counselor or health professional can help you get through the emotional effects of bullying.
  • Policies and laws may apply to you.  Federal, state and local law may also offer you protection if the bullying has risen to a certain level.  Many schools, colleges, and places of work also have policies against bullying or other related behaviors. Reach out to representatives in your community to find out more about what assistance is available to you.

What should you do if your child is being bullied?

If you think your child is being bullied or they bring it up….

  • Talk with your child. Focus on your child. Express your concern and make it clear that you want to help.
  • Empathize with your child. Say bullying is wrong, that it is not their fault, and that you are glad they had the courage to tell you about it.
  • Work together to find solutions. Ask your child what they think can be done to help. Reassure them that the situation can be handled privately.
  • Document ongoing bullying. Work with your child to keep a record of all bullying incidents. If it involves cyberbullying, keep a record of all messages or postings.
  • Help your child develop strategies and skills for handling bullying. Provide suggestions for ways to respond to bullying, and help your child gain confidence by rehearsing their responses.
  • Be persistent.  Bullying may not be resolved overnight.
  • Stay vigilant to other possible problems that your child may be having. Some of the warning signs may be signs of other serious problems. Share your concerns with a counselor at your child’s school.