Bullying is no longer an issue in the shadows, discussed only in whispers and often dismissed as minor child’s play. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, one in every five students reported being bullied in 2016. Whether bullying occurs in-person or online, victims across all demographics can be targeted in wide-ranging, and often extremely cruel, ways.
The effects of bullying are both immediate and lasting. It can cause depression, anxiety, insomnia, lack of focus in school and numerous additional long-term effects. Thankfully, not every child is a victim of bullying–but just because they don’t talk about it or show obvious signs, that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
Knowing the following warning signs from StopBullying.gov can help you and your staff make sure no child is suffering in silence.
Accidents will happen and minor injuries can be common in kids. However, if you suspect that a child isn’t being completely honest about how they got a bruise or scrape, trust your instinct and investigate.
Lost or Destroyed Personal Items
True, some kids tend to lose things, and they’re often hard on their belongings. If wear and tear go beyond what might be reasonably expected, though, or if treasured items disappear without explanation, there may be something more serious going on.
Frequently Sick or Faking Illness
Is a child often requesting to skip activities due to vague symptoms, or genuinely suffering from frequent headaches or stomachaches? This may be a sign of anxiety or depression, or even trying to avoid confrontation with a bully.
Changes in Eating Habits
Loss of appetite, skipping meals, binge eating or other changes in eating habits can be cause for concern. Take these changes seriously and discuss them with the child.
Difficulty Sleeping or Frequent Nightmares
If a child is constantly tired or lethargic, or their parent has mentioned frequent nightmares, they could be having trouble sleeping due to stress from bullying.
Sudden Loss of Friends
Some kids are naturally shy, but when a previously outgoing, friendly child suddenly stops playing with or talking about their friends, it might be time to start asking questions.
When a child makes disparaging comments about the way they look or other personal traits, or if they attempt to make drastic changes to their physical appearance, it could be a result of bullying. The most often reported reasons for bullying involve physical appearance, race or ethnicity, gender, disability, religion and sexual orientation.
Lastly, take action if a child hurts themselves or discusses suicide. These serious signs should never, ever be ignored.