How to spot the signs your child is being bullied at school - Pathways LA

21st Aug 2018

Warning signs your child may be dealing with bullying at school

How do you know if your child is being bullied

If you’re the parent or caretaker to a child in elementary school or beyond, you probably already know more than you’d care to about bullying. With 1 in 4 kids being bullied and 1 out of 5 being the bully, there’s a good chance you’ve had personal experience in this area. Yet being a parent to a bully or the bullied can feel hopeless. In fact, bullying and cyberbullying has passed kidnapping as parents’ biggest fear.  This leads man parents to wonder, “How do I know if my child is being bullied?”

Many parents feel helpless when it comes to protecting their kids from bullying. However, parents and guardians play a key role in preventing and responding to bullying. Of course, in order to take action you have to recognize the warning signs that your child is involved in bullying. This isn’t an exhaustive list and if you’re having a problem with bullying we’d urge you to speak to your school administrators, such as the principal or guidance counselor.

What the experts say about bullying

Pathways LA spoke with Dr. Irit Bar-Netzer, an LA-based psychologist who specializes in depression, anxiety, and trauma for children and parents, who advises, “We have to differentiate between being bullied and being teased,” Dr. Bar-Netzer.

Understanding what constitutes bullying is the first step in forming a plan to prevent or respond to it. “Many times even the kids themselves can be unaware,” Bar-Netzer says. “They just don’t understand why they can’t make friends.” This is especially true of kids with developmental delays, a segment of children who are at a higher risk of being bullied.

Although these signs could be symptomatic of other issues, you should talk to your child if they display a significant change in behavior or emotions. Many times kids won’t ask for help, so it is important to know what to look for. Dr. Bar-Netzer mentions paying attention to your child suddenly wanting to stay home from school, or changes in behavior such as refusing to wear certain clothes or styles.

“These changes could suggest the child is being bullied,” Dr. Bar-Netzer explained. “Even changes such as refusing to bring lunch to school. This could be because her lunch is being taken by the bully. In the case of refusing to bring food, pay attention to whether this is limited to ethnic or cultural foods.” Other tell-tale signs that something is wrong is if your child begins to show signs of low self-esteem, especially bedwetting which can be a sign of anxiety. During summer or spring break, watch to see if these signs go away. Frequently they will, only to begin again when school is back in session. Ultimately, we need to listen to our kids – not only their words but their body language and behavior.

“Many times children will not tell us they’re being bullied because they are embarrassed,” Dr. Bar-Netzer warns. “However, they’ll show us through their actions.”

Talk to your children about bullying

Talk to your child about bullying If any of these signs are present. Opening the communication can make it a little easier for them to tell you if something is happening. If you know or suspect bullying is going on, contact your child’s school or community officials who can work together to support your child and make them feel safe in their environment.