How to tell if your child could be getting bullied at school

According to experts, children affected by bullying can react in very different ways: Some are intimidated and withdraw to no longer be a target. They might turn off their computer or smartphone as soon as their parents or friends come near. Others react aggressively or become ill.

One sign parents always should be aware of is if their child suddenly gets highly reluctant to go to school for no apparent reason. For example, they may complain of abdominal pain. They also might suffer from sleep disorders, headaches, loss of appetite, or other physical complaints. Their academic performance declines, or their ability to concentrate decreases at school. Other children might not be interested in things they love doing. Dejection, lack of self-confidence, dwindling joie de vivre, and feelings of inferiority can be other alarm signals.

If physical bullying occurs at the same time, you might see bruises, broken objects, and torn clothing for which the child has no “real” answer or is reluctant to talk about the issue at all. If cornered on the topic, they might block all questions or downplay the issue.

Signs to look out for when you think your child might be bullied at school at one glance.

  • Often withdraw, appear anxious, and depressed.
  • Complain of health problems such as headaches or stomach aches, loss of appetite, and insomnia.
  • Seem nervous and tense, especially after school.
  • No longer wants to go to school alone, but rather be brought to school by their parents.
  • Typically, they refuse to go to school at all.
  • School performance drops rapidly.
  • Make excuses for physical injuries, loss of or damage to objects.
  • Avoid classmates and prefer to stay home alone in the afternoon.
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