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Recognizing The Signs Of Victimization

Repeated bullying causes severe emotional harm and can erode a child’s self-esteem and mental health. Whether bullying is verbal, physical or relational, the long-term effects are equally harmful. Both boys and girls report high levels of emotional distress and loneliness as well as lower self- esteem, anxiety and depression. In some situations the outcome is tragic; the child may take his or her own life.

Here are possible warnings that a child may be bullied and needs support. Of course, these signs could indicate other problems, but any of these warrant looking into further. Every child is different and any child can have an “off” day, so look instead of a pattern of behavior that is not typical for the child, such as:79,131

  • Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises andscrapes
  • Unexplained loss of toys, school supplies, clothing, lunches, ormoney
  • Clothes, toys, books, electronic items are damaged or missing or child reports mysteriously “losing”possessions
  • Doesn’t want to go to school or other activities withpeers
  • Afraid of riding the schoolbus
  • Afraid to be left alone: wants you there at dismissal, suddenlyclingy
  • Suddenly sullen, withdrawn, evasive; remarks about feelinglonely
  • Marked change in typical behavior orpersonality
  • Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed and that mood lasts with no knowncause
  • Physical complaints; headaches, stomachaches, frequent visits the school nurse’soffice
  • Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, cries self to sleep, bedwetting
  • Change in eatinghabits
  • Begins bullying siblings or younger kids. (Bullied children can sometimes flip their role and become thebully).
  • Waits to get home to use the bathroom. (School and park bathrooms, because they are often not adult-supervised, can be hot spots for bullying).
  • Suddenly has fewer friends or doesn’t want to be with the “regular group.”
  • Ravenous when he comes home. (Bullies can use extortion stealing a victim’s lunch money orlunch).
  • Sudden and significant drop in grades. (Bullying can cause a child to have difficulty focusing andconcentrating).
  • Blames self for problems; feels “not goodenough.”
  • Talks about feeling helpless or about suicide; runsaway.
  • Lost or damagedproperty
  • Feigningillness
  • Declininggrades
  • Change in social activitylevel
  • Mentioning or attemptingself-harm

If a student is being bullied at school they may:

  • become aggressive andunreasonable
  • start to get intofights
  • refuse to talk about what iswrong
  • have unexplained bruises, cuts, scratches, particularly those appearing after recess orlunch
  • have missing or damaged belongings orclothes
  • have falling schoolgrades
  • be alone often or excluded from friendship groups atschool
  • show a change in their ability or willingness to speak up inclass
  • appear insecure orfrightened
  • be a frequent target for teasing, mimicking orridicule

Physical Signs of Bullying:

  • Has unexplained bruises, cuts,scratches
  • Comes home with missing or damaged belongings orclothes
  • Comes homehungry
  • Unexplainedinjuries