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What is bullying?

Bullying is a widespread and serious problem that can happen anywhere. It is an insidious form of misbehavior that can result in harmful, even dire consequences.

Although definitions of bullying vary, most agree that bullying involves:
  • Imbalance of Power: people who bully use their power to control or harm and the people being bullied may have a hard time defending themselves
  • Intent to Cause Harm: actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to cause harm
  • Repetition: incidents of bullying happen to the same person over and over by the same person or group
Bullying can take many forms. Examples include:
  • Verbal: name-calling, teasing
  • Social: spreading rumors, leaving people out on purpose, breaking up friendships 
  • Physical: hitting, punching, shoving
  • Cyberbullying: using the Internet, mobile phones, or other digital technologies to harm others


Warning signs:

A child being bullied may:
  • Come home with damaged or missing clothing or belongings
  • Report losing items such as books, electronics, clothing, or jewelry
  • Have unexplained injuries
  • Complain frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or feeling sick
  • Have trouble sleeping or have frequent bad dreams
  • Have changes in eating habits
  • Hurt himself/herself
  • Be very hungry after school from not eating their lunch
  • Run away from home
  • Lose interest in visiting or talking with friends
  • Be afraid of going to school or other activities with peers
  • Lose interest in school work or do poorly in school
  • Appear sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed when they come home
  • Talk about suicide
  • Feel helpless
  • Often feel like he/she is not good enough
  • Blame himself/herself for his/her problems
  • Suddenly have fewer friends
  • Avoid certain places
  • Act differently than usual
A child who is engaging in bullying behavior may:
  • Become violent with others
  • Get into physical or verbal fights with others
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or detention frequently
  • Have extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained
  • Be quick to blame others
  • Not accept responsibility for his/her actions
  • Have friends who bully others
  • Need to win or be best at everything

What to Do If Your Child is Being Bullied:

  • Never tell your child to ignore the bullying.
  • Don't blame your child for the bullying. Don't assume your child did something to provoke the bullying.
  • Allow your child to talk about his or her bullying experiences.
  • Empathize with your child. Tell him/her that bullying is wrong, that it is not his/her fault, and that you are glad he/she had the courage to talk to you about it.
  • If you disagree with how your child handled the bullying situation, don't criticize him/her. It is often very difficult for children to know how best to respond.
  • Do not encourage physical retaliation.
  • Check your emotions. A parent's protective instinct stirs strong emotions. Although it is difficult, step back and consider the next steps carefully.
  • Contact a teacher, school counselor, or principal at your school immediately and share your concerns.
  • Work closely with school personnel to help solve the problem.
  • Encourage your child to develop interests and hobbies that will help build resiliency in difficult situations like bullying.
  • Encourage your child to make contact with friendly students in his or her class, or help your child meet new friends outside of school.
  • Teach your child safety strategies, such as how to seek help from an adult.
  • Make sure your child has a safe and loving home environment.
  • If you or your child need additional help, seek help from a school counselor and/or mental health professional.