Back to School: How To Know If Your Child Is Being Bullied

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Children around the country are returning to school. For many of them, this will be a fun and enjoyable experience, but for the 20 percent of students who report being bullied, they likely feel the opposite. Bullying can have serious impacts on a child’s development, and if the signs of bullying are not caught early enough and addressed, there could be significant consequences.

What is Bullying and Where Does it Happen?

Bullying, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is unwanted aggressive behavior by another youth or group of youths that is repeated often, or has the potential to be repeated. The result of bullying could be physical, psychological, social or educational harm.

This type of treatment could happen on the school bus, in school, or online, as cyber bullying has become an increasingly common form. In 2013, 15 percent of all students reported being cyber-bullied in the 12 months leading up to when they were surveyed.

What Is Being Done to Stop Bullying?

In an attempt to address this issue, every state in the country has done something to combat bullying. Still, 20 percent of students report being bullied in some form, and more must be done to prevent bullying because the potential effects are too serious.

Children who are bullied have an increased risk of depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment. However, despite being treated by other children in a harmful manner, fewer than half of the children that experience bullying report it.

Children refuse to tell an adult about being bullied for a variety of reasons. Some don’t tell because they fear backlash from the bully, while others don’t want to be seen as a tattler. Regardless of the rationale, there is no reason a child should be bullied, and if they refuse to tell an adult, it is up to adults to be on the lookout for signs of bullying because no child should have to suffer in silence.

What Are the Signs That a Child Is Being Bullied?

Even though not all children who are bullied outwardly exhibit signs that they are being bullied, many do. The following is a list of the most common signs that a child is being bullied, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services.

  • 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;
  • 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; and
  • Self-destructive behaviors, such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide.

To learn more about the signs and symptoms of bullying, and what you can do to address them, please visit stopbullying.gov.

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