Bullying – Know the Signs

1 Oct 2021 Anne Marie Fogarty

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Seeing anyone of any age being bullied is heart-wrenching, but when it’s your own child, it can leave you as a parent or guardian feeling helpless.


There are things you can do to support a child who may be experiencing harassment or bullying. The first step is to know the tell-tale signs.


Know the signs

Bullying is defined as ongoing and repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can occur in person or online and can be obvious or hidden. Sometimes it can be difficult to know if someone is being bullied or not. So, it’s imperative we all know the signs to look out for!

What are the emotional and behavioural signs of bullying?

  • Changes in sleep and eating habits
  • Anger outbursts
  • Feeling irritable and/or upset
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Children will often complain of feeling ill in the morning and refusing to go to school
  • Suddenly becoming withdrawn or stammering, refusing to open and talk
  • Begins to target siblings
  • School grades fall behind
  • Work becomes less productive

What are the physical signs of bullying?

  • Has unexplained bruises or other injuries
  • Comes home with missing or damaged belongings or clothes
  • Comes home from school hungry
  • May spend a lot of time alone or in their bedroom
  • Appears sad and down often

What can I do to help with bullying?

Keep the lines of communication open with the child. Keep engaging with them and let them know you are there when they want to talk. Encourage them to speak out, they may want to stay quiet to protect their bully out of fear-it’s paramount they talk and let out what is going on.

Speak confidentially with their teachers to see can they shed any light on the situation. Even if they don’t see an issue at that time, you can make them aware, so they are vigilant going forward.

Reporting bullies should always be encouraged as a valid solution. It’s not easy and tell your child that- but it may be the only way things get better.

Knowing the signs can often lead to a solution. If you notice a change in your child’s usual behaviour, sit them down and have an initial supportive chat with them.

Let them lead the conversation but balance that with positive encouragement to speak up. Ensure they know to tell someone what is going on because all too often those being subjected to bullying stay quiet and the victim’s silence becomes the bullies weapon.

There are times as parents you may need to seek professional support and have your child attend counselling. However, hopefully by knowing what to watch out for, you may be able to resolve the issue before it gets to the point of needing professional help. Keep calm, it can be emotionally heart-breaking, but by open communication, encouragement and linking in with the school/or wherever the bullying is happening, you’ll be well equipped to help your little one.

It’s also worth letting children know from a very young age that bullying is always wrong. Let’s stamp it out and protect our children! Know the signs to know the problem.



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