5 Common Signs a Child is Being Bullied

In 2016, it was demonstrated that an adult at school was notified in less than half of all bullying incidents (Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016).

There are many reasons why a child may not want to talk about being bullied. They may feel embarrassed or helpless and they may fear backlash from the bully if they tell someone. For this reason, it is important to be able to identify any signs that suggest a child is being bullied so that an intervention can occur, even if the child is too scared to say something. 

5 common signs a child may be being bullied:

  1. Unexplained injuries, marks, cuts and bruises- the child may be being psychically bullied but be dismissive of their injuries or state that they ‘fell over’ to avoid talking about the issue.
  2. Frequent headaches, stomach pains, unexplained pains or faking illnesses- a child may fake illnesses to avoid going to school or they may suffer from stomach pains from the stress of being bullied.
  3. Sudden drop in school grades- being bullied can often cause children to lose focus at school and thus school grades may drop.
  4. Unexplained loss or damage of possessions- a bully may be damaging or taking a child’s possessions, however the child may be unwilling to talk about it and may state that the possession has just been lost. 
  5. Changes in personality or typical behaviour- Eating habits may change, there may be a sudden change in sleeping habits (difficulty sleeping or regular nightmares), the child may withdrawal from social situations and they may also partake in unusual self-destructive behaviours (e.g. running away, harming themselves). 

What can you do if a child is being bullied?

A child may find it difficult to tell you that they are being bullied. Ask them specifically about their unexplained injuries or their lost or damaged possessions, asking them specifically if someone else did this to them. Pay close attention to how they react. They may not want to talk to you about it, but their reaction may tell the story.

Make sure you talk to the child about how they are being bullied and talk to them about how you can help.

Ensure other teachers are made aware of this so they can intervene if they see something.

If a child does speak to you about being bullied, ensure you are there to listen to them and support them as this would have been a very difficult thing for them to do.

Altruist Enterprises offers a number of mental health awareness courses to schools, helping teachers to support the young people that they work with more effectively, whilst identifying the appropriate strategies of support. To find out more, click here.

Sabrina is an MSc Psychology student and the University of Birmingham. She is passionate about increasing awareness around mental health to reduce the stigma surrounding the topic, and also to help people better understand how they can help those suffering from a mental health problem.

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