Bullying: The Warning Signs

What are some warning signs that your child might be getting bullied, and why might they be a target?

While it is important to remember that NOT all children who are experiencing bullying will show warning signs. However, changes to look out for in a child may include:

  1. Unexplainable physical injury
  2. Lost or destroyed personal items including clothing, books, magazines, school items, electronics and jewelry
  3. Increase in frequency of sudden or faked illnesses (headaches, stomach aches)
  4. Changing in eating habits (opting out of meals or coming home hungry because they did not eat at lunch time)
  5. Change in sleep patterns or difficulty sleeping
  6. Changes in academic patterns – sudden decrease in grades and not wanting to go to school
  7. Avoidance of social situations and loss of friends
  8. Decreased self-esteem and self confidence
  9. Self-destructive behaviors including self-harm or talk of suicide

Who May Be a Target For Bullying and Why?

The simple answer is that bullies can and will target ANYONE. There is no special recipe or rationale behind why certain people are targeted and others are not. Additionally, those that were never targets before, could find themselves being targeted, and those that were, could be suddenly left alone.

While there are no concrete reasons for why someone may be the target, there are some characteristics that a bully will look for such as:

  1. Perceived differences from their peers such as:
    • Overweight
    • Wearing glasses
    • Different or non-designer clothing
    • Situational factors like being the “new kid”
    • Unable to have or afford luxuries that kids would deem as “cool” such as the latest technology or smart phones
  2. Perceived as weak or less likely to defend themselves
  3. Depressed, anxious or having low self esteem
  4. Those viewed as “annoying”, less popular or lacking friends
  5. Individuals with special needs or disabilities – recent studies have concluded that individuals with special needs/disabilities are twice as likely to be targeted than students without a disability
  6. LGBTQ+ – according to StopBullying.gov LGBTQ individuals have reported being bullied on school property (33%) and on cyberspace (27%)
  7. Race, ethnicity, religion
  8. Individuals with food allergies – a growing, and alarmingly dangerous new target area given the potentially fatal consequences