How to Tell if Your Child is Being Bullied

School can be an exciting time for your child. But sadly for some kids, school can be torturous if they’re experiencing bullying. 

It’s important to know the signs if your child isn’t speaking up. As a mum, how can you tell if your child is being bullied?

Bullying is a deliberate intention to harm somebody else that is ongoing and repeated, and that creates a power imbalance between the bully and the child being bullied. It can be verbal, physical or relational.

No one deserves to be bullied. Being bullied is not your child’s fault or responsibility.”
Kids Helpline

Bullying can cause long-term, severe emotional harm. It can damage a child’s self-esteem and mental health, and cause distress, loneliness, anxiety, depression and tragically suicide. This powerful video shows what bullying can do to a child.

mum central

How to tell if your child is being bullied

No matter how close you are with your child, sometimes they won’t tell you if something is troubling them. Your child might be embarrassed, think you won’t believe them, won’t be able to help, or that you could make things worse by interfering.

Signs to watch for that a child could be experiencing bullying: 

  • Acting differently to normal
  • Not eating well
  • Not sleeping well, nightmares, bed wetting
  • Seems quieter, sad, sullen, moody, withdrawn or evasive
  • Seems stressed, anxious, depressed, helpless or lonely
  • Talks about suicide or running away
  • Seems clingier than usual, gets upset more easily or is afraid to be left alone
  • Withdrawing from family, friends or activities they once enjoyed
  • Bullying siblings or younger kids (mirroring behaviours being experienced)
  • Has fewer friends or friendships breakup
  • Not wanting to go to school or activities with peers
  • Waiting to get home to use the bathroom rather than going at school
  • Not wanting to travel to school on their own such as by bike or bus
  • Marks, cuts, bruises, scrapes on their skin
  • Stained or ripped clothes
  • Lost or damaged possessions like toys, books, clothing, lunch or money
  • Asks for more money for lunch or allowance
  • Hungry when gets home as if hasn’t eaten at school
  • Increased days off school
  • Complaints of headaches, stomach aches or frequent visits to the school’s sick room
  • Sudden drop in grades and focus at school
  • School reports about changes in behaviour such as lost homework or being involved in fighting.

teenage boys mental health

What to do if you think your child is being bullied

Bullying can cause serious harm. If you think your child might be being bullied, trust your instincts. It’s important to find ways to support your child and be their parent advocate and support.

Bullying No Way (the online resource for Safe Australian Schools) suggests it can be distressing to learn your child is being bullied and encourages you to be calm, even though it is difficult. Their recommendation is that the following should be your first steps:

  • You need to consider what you know about your child and the details of the situation to make the best decision for your child. Different approaches and strategies may be necessary for various situations and individual children.
  • Let your child know that you take the bullying seriously and that you can help them to report it to the school.
  • You should contact the school immediately if your child’s safety is at risk.
  • Stay calm and positive.

All the recommended steps, including how to communicate your concerns to the school, can be found on their website, Bullying No Way

You can also seek help by contacting your health care provider or calling the Kids Helpline.

Bullying can have tragic consequences and as a parent this is definitely a time when your child needs your understanding more than ever. Read about Dolly’s Dream to find out how you can make a difference.

Avatar of Kerry Rosser

I love my three country kids - and all things writing! Like most mums, I wear lots of hats - writer, children's author, organisational psychologist and the pairer of the odd socks!

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