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Bullying: how to spot the signs

 

Bullying is when children:

  • tease other children over and over again
  • ignore other children or leave them out of games or activities
  • say mean things or call other children names
  • spread nasty stories about other children
  • hit and push other children
  • take other children’s things.

Bullying can happen face to face. It can also happen online – for example, if children send harassing texts or post negative comments about others online. This is cyberbullying.

If friends or peers disagree or even argue, or if someone says something mean once, it can be unpleasant and even nasty. But it isn’t bullying. Bullying is mean and hurtful behaviour that happens over and over again.

Children should never be left to sort out bullying on their own. They can be seriously hurt by it. It’s important for you to stop bullying quickly, before it damages a child’s confidence. 

Spotting signs of bullying

Your child might tell you that she’s being bullied. For example, she might say that other children are teasing her, making fun of her, putting her down, laughing at her, calling her names, ignoring her or threatening her.

If your child doesn’t say anything but you’re worried, here are some signs to look out for.

Physical signs:

  • bruises, cuts and scratches
  • torn clothes
  • missing property
  • poor eating or sleeping
  • bedwetting
  • complaints about headaches or tummy aches.

Requests for money or other items
The person doing the bullying might be demanding money or things like lunch box treats from your child.

School or preschool problems
Your child might:

  • not want to go to preschool or school
  • stay close to teachers during breaks
  • start sitting alone
  • have difficulty asking or answering questions in class, or have trouble with schoolwork or homework
  • stop taking part in school activities.

Social changes
Your child might avoid social events that he used to enjoy, like parties. Or you might notice that he’s:

  • being excluded at lunch and recess
  • losing contact with classmates after school
  • being chosen last for teams and games.

Emotional changes
Your child might seem unusually anxious, nervous, upset, unhappy, down, teary, angry, withdrawn and secretive. These changes might be more obvious at the end of weekends or holidays, when your child has to go back to school.

These signs don’t necessarily mean your child is being bullied. They could be signs of other issues, like depression. 

There’s no single way to tell whether your child is being bullied. The way your child reacts to bullying will depend on how bad the bullying is, as well as your child’s personality.

 

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