What should I know about bullying?

By Rachel Hace - Logan County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

Rachel L Hance, Logan County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

As a parent or caregiver, you might feel concern that your child is or may become a target of bullying. How can you know if your child is a victim of bullying? And, if so, what should you do? Before addressing those two questions it is important to have a better understanding of what bullying really means. Bullying refers to a type of unwanted aggressive behavior among school aged kids that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power. The behavior is likely to be re-peated, can harm or hurt someone physically and emotionally and can occur in-person or through technology devices, such as cellphones or computers. Bullying behaviors include making threats, spreading rumors, name calling, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose. Here are some warning signs that a victim of bullying com-monly displays:

  • Sudden lack of interest in school
  • Sudden decreased interest in favorite school activities
  • Wants to go to school with parents or caregivers instead of riding the bus
  • Talks about avoiding certain areas of the school
  • Talks about dropping out of school
  • Has trouble concentrating in class and is easily distracted
  • Appears to be happy on weekends, but unhappy, anxious or tense on Sundays
  • Exhibits sleep issues such as nightmares and insomnia
  • Experiences changes in eating patterns
  • Comes home with unexplained scratches, bruises and torn clothing
  • Experiences frequent illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Becomes moody or angry and starts bullying others, such as siblings, students or children in the neighborhood
  • Loss of respect for authority figures
  • Talks about suicide

If you think your child is being bullied, take in consideration the following suggestions:

  • Stay calm
  • Be aware that your child may feel embarrassed and humiliated
  • Tell your child that no one deserves to be bullied. Explain that bullies seek to harm and con-trol, so your child must not let the bullies know that he or she is hurt by the behavior
  • Don’t tell your child to retaliate. Retaliation frequently makes the bullying worse and persis-tent. Bullies are often more powerful than their victims
  • Don’t tell your child to ignore the bully. Usually, ignoring doesn’t work either
  • Teach your child to be assertive, but not aggressive
  • Find out what happened, who was involved, and when and where it happened, and keep a record of this information
  • Ask for a copy of your district’s anti-bullying policy
  • Report all physical assaults to the school and to police
  • Take pictures of all injuries and hold a ruler next to the injuries to show their sizes. Keep a log of your child’s medical treatment, including counseling and all medical costs
  • Be patient. Some bullying situations take more time to investigate than others
  • Involve your child in discovering solutions to the bullying situation
  • Encourage your child to participate in activities inside and outside school. Involvement in enjoyable activities increases the chances of high-quality friendships

Lookout for signs of depression and anxiety in your child, and do not hesitate to seek professional help

Remember that as a parent or caregiver you are responsible for helping your children deal with situations that might harm their physical, intellectual, or emotional wellbeing.


Beane, A. L. (2003). Helpful fact sheets for parents. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing Inc.

Beane, A. L., & Law, M. (2011). Helping parents of bullied students. ASCD Express, 6, 13. Re-trieved from http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol6/613-beane.aspx

Stopbullying.gov (n. d.). What is bullying. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from http://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html

Rachel L Hance, Logan County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences
http://newsdemocratleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_Hance-2010.jpgRachel L Hance, Logan County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

By Rachel Hace

Logan County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

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