How do I know if my kid is being bullied?

By Barbara Victor, Director, Clinical Services

Bullying involves repeated acts of physical, emotional or social behaviour that are intentional, controlling, and hurtful. Bullying is a learned behaviour, evident as early as two years of age. Bullying can be either direct or indirect. Direct bullying usually is seen and felt readily. Indirect bullying (deliberate exclusion, name calling, etc.) is much more difficult to remedy, and should be clearly seen as different from direct bullying.

Bullying has lasting effects, even into adulthood. Each of us can probably recall at least one incident in our childhood in which we were bullied, how it made us feel then, and how that incident shaped who we are today. Children who are being bullied can not manage these situations on their own. So often it bullying is happening right in front of us but we don’t see it. If your child exhibits one or more of these warning signs, he/she may be a victim of bullying. Talk with your child to explore further whether or not he/she is being bullied.

A child being bullied often:

  • Withdraws socially; has few or no friends.
  • Feels isolated, alone, and sad.
  • Feels picked on or persecuted.
  • Feels rejected and not liked.
  • Frequently complains of illness.
  • Doesn’t want to go to school; avoids some classes or skips school.
  • Brings home damaged possessions or reports them “lost”.
  • Cries easily; displays mood swings and talks about hopelessness.
  • Has poor social skills.
  • Talks about running away; talks of suicide.
  • Threatens violence to self and others.
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
  • Takes, or attempts to take, “protection” to school (a stick, knife, gun, etc.).
  • Displays “victim” body language – hangs head, hunches shoulders, avoids eye contact.


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One thought on “How do I know if my kid is being bullied?

  1. Some signs of bullying:Avoiding soochl and mentions of soochl. Which often can be taken as just a child being willful or wanting to slack and be lazy. Also, a child who is sick a lot without actually being diagnosed as having any virus or bacterial infections.It may seem obvious, but there are a lot of people who really think that a child who throws fits about going to soochl, skips it as much as possible, or fakes’ being sick and the like are JUST seeking attention in a Calvin Hobbesian way, but in my own personal childhood, and in others I have seen, it’s a sign of a serious problem and a child who feels they have no way out and that no one listens, notices, or cares.Another sign is personal appearance neglect- if a child or teen starts to become apathetic and Just Not Care about how clean they are or if their hair is combed or their clothing is in good condition (especially if they have in the past actually SHOWN signs of caring about hygiene, even if they never were interested in normal fashion’ or the like) it could very well be a sign that they have given up on themselves. It can also carry over to general tidiness of their room or their willingness to do chores.Energy level drops are another sign that comes to mind, and can be linked to the last one- a child or teen who doesn’t seem to want to go out and do anything, who sleeps a lot, or zones out and seems to have no motivation to do anything remotely challenging. It could be a sign that the child/teen/adult is suffering depression that is linked to social ill treatment as much as anything else.

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