Warning Signs that a Child is being Bullied

    Possible warning signs that a child is being bullied:

    • Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing

    pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings;

    • Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches;

    • Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she

    spends time;

    • Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and

    from school, riding the school bus, or taking part

    in organized activities with peers (such as clubs);

    • Takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or

    from school;

    • Has lost interest in school work or suddenly

    begins to do poorly in school;

    • Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he

    or she comes home;

    • Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches,

    or other physical ailments;

    • Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams;

    • Experiences a loss of appetite; or


    What should you do?

    1. Talk with your child. Tell your child that you are

    concerned and that you’d like to help. Here are

    some questions that can get the discussion going:

    • “I’m worried about you. Are there any kids

    at school who may be picking on you or

    bullying you?”

    • “Are there any kids at school who tease you in a

    mean way?”

    • “Are there any kids at school who leave you out or

    exclude you on purpose?”

    • “Do you have any special friends at school this

    year? Who are they? Who do you hang out with?”

    • “Who do you sit with at lunch and on the bus?”

    • “Are there any kids at school who you really don’t

    like? Why don’t you like them? Do they ever pick

    on you or leave you out of things?”

    2. Talk with staff at your child’s school. Call or set up

    an appointment to talk with your child’s teacher. He

    or she will probably be in the best position to

    understand the relationships between your child

    and other peers at school. Share your concerns

    about your child. 

    If you are not comfortable talking with your child’s

    teacher, or if you are not satisfied with the

    conversation, make an appointment to meet with

    your child’s guidance counselor or principal to

    discuss your concerns.


    Olweus, D.

    (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. NY: Blackwell.

    Olweus, D., Limber, S., & Mihalic, S.

    (1999). The Bullying Prevention Program: Blueprints for violence prevention. Boulder, CO: Center for the Study

    and Prevention of Violence.