Unless your child tells you about bullying — or has visible bruises or injuries — it can be difficult to figure out if it's happening.
But there are some warning signs. You might notice your child acting differently or seeming anxious, or not eating, sleeping well, or doing the things that he or she usually enjoys. When kids seem moodier or more easily upset than usual, or when they start avoiding certain situations, like taking the bus to school, it may be because of a bully.
If you suspect bullying but your child is reluctant to open up, find opportunities to bring up the issue in a more roundabout way. For instance, you might see a situation on a TV show and use it as a conversation starter, asking "What do you think of this?" or "What do you think that person should have done?" This might lead to questions like: "Have you ever seen this happen?" or "Have you ever experienced this?" You might want to talk about any experiences you or another family member had at that age.
Let your child know that if he or she is being bullied — or sees it happening to someone else — it's important to talk to someone about it, whether it's you, another adult (a teacher, school counselor, or family friend), or a sibling.
Symptoms that a child might be a victim of bullying:
*acts moody, sullen, or withdraws from family interaction
*loses interest in school work, or grades drop
*loses appetite or has difficulty getting to sleep
*waits to use the bathroom at home
*arrives home with torn clothes, unexplained bruises
*asks for extra money for school lunch or supplies, extra allowance
*refuses to go to school (15 percent of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school)
*wants to carry a protection item, such as a knife