Is there any way to tell if a child is being bullied? Yes, according to Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear (Harper Collins, 2012).

Apparently, children exhibit different warning signs at different ages. Elementary age children will usually tell an authority figure such as a teacher or parent about the bullying, because they’re too young to worry about retaliation.

Those younger children who for some reason don’t tell, might signal they are being bullied by playing alone, asking to stay home from school, or regressing in toilet training.

In middle school, some victims will head immediately for the bathroom when they get home, usually because they’re afraid of using the school bathroom. Or they might appear ravenous, because they’re either too nervous to eat at school or because a bully has taken their lunch or their lunch money. At this age, they’re also aware of retaliation and peer opinion and don’t tell parents or teachers because they want to appear cool.

High school students give off their own unique hints that life isn’t all rosy. These include a change of eating habits, inability to sleep, lack of enthusiasm for past pleasures, and isolation from family. If they are being physically abused, they might wear long sleeves and pants to hide injuries. They might also dip into their parents’ alcohol or prescription medicines, or, in the worse case, begin giving away possessions, a sign that he or she might be considering suicide.

Of course, many of these signs are also indications of depression, which on its own can result from bullying. Discerning parents and teachers would be wise to learn the signs that a child is being bullied so they can step in in time to help the victim.

According to the description of Bullied, “Goldman brings together the expertise of leading authorities with the candid accounts of families dealing firsthand with peer victimization to present proven strategies and concrete tools for teaching children how to speak up and carry themselves with confidence; call each other out on cruelty; resolve conflict; cope with teasing, taunting, physical abuse, and cyberbullying; and be smart consumers of technology and media.…”

Before children can get assistance to end their bullying, an adult needs to know it’s happening. These signs  and this book should help.

Do you know any sign a child is being bullied that wasn’t mentioned? Adults have to be alert to every signal, no matter how subtle. Please share if you have any to add.

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