17 Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied Or Is Bullying Others

stop bullying


Someone recently sent me a link to a website called StopBullying.gov. Ironically, this is a subject that has been on my mind a lot lately. Within just the last couple of weeks I have heard of two separate incidents from friends whose kids were being bullied at school in my own relatively small town. I’ve actually been very frustrated by the whole situation because I didn’t know what I could do to help.

So when I came across this list of signs that your child is being bullied or is bullying others, I knew I had to share it. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in stopping the bullying, especially in light of the fact that according to statistics, only about a third of bullying cases is ever reported to an adult.




stop bullying


Signs a Child is Being Bullied

from StopBullying.gov


  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide


stop bullying


Signs a Child is Bullying Others


  • Get into physical or verbal fights
  • Have friends who bully others
  • Are increasingly aggressive
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
  • Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
  • Blame others for their problems
  • Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity



stop bullying


Helping Kids Understand Bullying

Now that you know what the signs are….now we need to teach our kids.  If we help our kids understand what bullying is and how they can stand up to it…hopefully they will be more likely to talk about it when it happens to them or others.

stop bullying


Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Research tells us that children really do look to parents and caregivers for advice and help on tough decisions. Sometimes spending 15 minutes a day talking can reassure kids that they can talk to their parents if they have a problem. Start conversations about daily life and feelings with open-ended questions such as….”What was one good thing and one bad thing that happened today?”

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Encourage Kids to Do What They Love

Help kids take part in activities, interests, and hobbies they like. Kids can volunteer, play sports, sing in a chorus, or join a youth group or school club. These activities give kids a chance to have fun and meet others with the same interests. They can build confidence and friendships that help protect kids from bullying.

stop bullying



Model How to Treat Others with Kindness and Respect

Kids learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show the kids in their lives that there is no place for bullying. Even if it seems like they are not paying attention, kids are watching how adults manage stress and conflict, as well as how they treat their friends, colleagues, and families.

stop bullying


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers bullying a form of youth violence and calls “electronic aggression” an emerging public health problem.


It’s up to us to stop it.


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How are you or your community, school etc. addressing bullying?

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  1. A LUCKY MOM says

    THANK YOU, for sharing the signs with everyone. My youngest is now 19 and in college, he and I are very close, he tells me things most boys would never tell their Mom. He is a very smart popular kid, lots of friends, he was the kid that stopped kids from bullying. Well, his last two year of high school, we had to admit him several times for depression, he became withdrawn and at time suicidal. I was terrified, the root of the problem ended up to be bullying. This did not come out until after he graduated and went on to college, and he was safe and away from the high school environment. Even though he protected other kids from being bullyed, he could not protect himself.

    Parents need to be aware that a lot of victims of bullys never report it, the just internalize it all.
    We almost lost our son I don’t want any parent to lose their kid to bullying.
    Print out a copy of the signs, keep it handy and seek help if you suspect anything. and finally
    SPEAK UP, if you see or hear anything, the child you save might be your own

    • Marjori says

      I was the same as your son…I stood up against the bullies for the ones who couldn’t, but I couldn’t stand up for myself.

      I have a son who is going into high school & when I had to go on campus to get registration papers, I had a panic attack…it just brought me right back….and I am 46 yrs old!

      Thank Goodness your son was able to push through it. :)

  2. Debbie says

    I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa & was placed at a school. Guess what…bullying is Universal! I taught on the subject after observing it. I also believe that children that are bullies grow up to be bullies in the workplace and at home. Workplace bullying is also a problem.

  3. Rebecca b says

    Alex, I am sorry for your pain. What is it with the eating, I did/do that too. I guess our parents just didn’t choose to see or understand the pain we were in. To this day I get the willies thinking about school, and I will have bad dreams when things are going wrong in my life, that take me back to those days. The school bus was the worst.
    My husband and I made the decision to homeschool our kids, and though bullying was not a major part of the decision, I have to say that I felt better for my kids that they wouldn’t have to deal with that daily.

  4. Alex says

    Yup, list number one looks familiar. I remember seeing ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ and relating so much to the character of Cameron, who felt better when he was sick. Anxiety about being bullied probably didn’t help either. Being bullied may have helped my grades because I would hide out in our school library at recess and lunch. However, it is probably the reason that I started eating my feelings; a habit I’m still trying to break.

    Despite being the youngest in the class, I was a head taller than most of them and chubby (their main target in bullying). Also, my parents didn’t have any friends with kids, so I developed a sophisticated vocabulary sooner than my peers) This meant that any time there was a physical altercation, I was the one blamed by the teachers. Being bigger and better-spoken registered as “more mature” to them.

    Also, because my parents’ friends didn’t have kids, my parents didn’t always have a good yardstick for normal kid behavior and shrugged off my pleas to change schools for years until my wrist was broken within the same year I got a concussion.

  5. Rebecca b says

    I was bullied as a child and it still affects me today. I’m 47 years old. I’m glad for kids now, that parents are more aware of the situation. Even today, there is a tendency to blame the victim, for being a little bit different. I do it myself, even having been in that situation. We need to aggressively teach compassion (that sounds so funny) and respect for human life. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I know it isn’t tv shows that glorify violence or make fun of people for various shortcomings.

  6. says

    I feel sick with worry just reading this, as I know it’s an issue that’s hard to avoid. My kids are still little, but I hope when they’re old enough they treat each other with kindness and compassion, but who knows? The lists are a great way to get onto things early. Good luck to anyone going through this tough stuff.

  7. itismedia says

    As a third grade teacher I would also like to add that you should watch for a child that does not normally get in trouble at school (or in the neighborhood) suddenly starts getting phone calls home, detention, or in fights may be BEING bullied. Sometimes bullying goes on behind the scenes or there is not a strong support system in place (parents, administration, etc…) and the bullied student becomes the bully. So do not automatically think that your child is the bully. Try to get to the bottom of it. I do not mean necessarily believe everything that your child says (even though we love them, they do not want to get in trouble if they are indeed bullying they will try to pass off the blame), but really investigate. Also, cliques are extremely important in school. Every student wants to belong, wants to have a multitude of friends, etc… Sometimes they will bully to belong. I have called out students before and said, “wow! that is bullying” and they look at me like I am crazy. It sometimes takes a minute for them to see that what everyone else is doing is wrong and that they should not take part.

    I have these issues going on in my classroom this year. I took it over half way through the year and I do not know what happened with the previous teacher or what she allowed to happen. By the time I came in there was a child being bullied every day because of his old uniforms, his smell, his unkept appearance…I have had parents come up saying that a child called their child a name, but then I have to tell them what their child said first. Are either of the children in the right, no but the second child felt the need to verbally defend themselves. I teach in an inner city school and their code is a little different, but that does not mean that school should not be a safe place.

    I think basically, to sum it up, make sure you know what side your child is REALLY on before you assume they are being bullied or are they bullier. =+) This is a horrible issue that has to stop no matter what side your child is on.

  8. Janet T says

    About 20 years ago my best friend’s son was being bullied at his private school in London. A former teacher, she told her son to invite the bully home after school one day. The boy was welcomed, given a nice after-school snack and treated like a friend. The tactic worked.
    One of my own daughters was psychologically bullied while in primary school, and it went on for years without any obvious signs. She had a small group of friends who were dominated by one girl. This girl would alternately criticise and belittle or lavish friendship, and each girl in the group was desperately unhappy when it was her turn to be spurned by “the leader.” It all came out when my daughter was 11 and we were shopping together for her new school uniform. She’d been told for years by this girl that she was adopted because she didn’t look like either her father or me, that she was fat, couldn’t dance, that one day her freckles would all grow together and cover her skin, etc. None of this was in fact true, but in her childlike way she was under this girl’s spell and she believed every word. The next morning I phoned the school early and spoke to the class teacher, who took it very seriously, saying that what I told her explained a few things. The school dealt with her (I didn’t enquire about the details), but my daughter was upset that I’d informed the school—it wasn’t easy for her to break the long habits of friendship, even if they were toxic. The problem resolved itself when they soon all moved on to different secondary schools, but I still cannot think of this girl without getting upset. Luckily my daughter was able to recover from her experience, and made a great success of herself at her next school, both academically and socially, and today is a beautiful, confident young woman. I wonder if the bully ever had any insight into her cruel behaviour as she grew up …

  9. Beth says

    Jillee Thank you for posting this, and also for including the signs that your child may be bullying others, it seems that this side of the issue is often ignored and it’s important for parents to watch for both sides of this issue!