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Parents: Watch for these signs that your child is being bullied

Parents go to great lengths to protect kids from painful situations. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we cannot protect children from every situation that puts them in danger of being hurt. This can be especially true if parents are not aware of any risks in the first place.

For instance, many parents do not know their child is being bullied until he or she winds up hurt or worse. In this post, we will look at some subtle and not-so-subtle signs that a child is being bullied and help parents understand what they can do to address the situation.

Non-visible signs that a child is being bullied

  • Sudden loss of interest in certain friends or activities
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Problems sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Increased complaints of "feeling sick" to avoid school
  • Difficulties focusing on schoolwork and declining grade
  • Significant and unexplained mood changes

Visible signs that a child is being bullied

  • Black eyes or bruises
  • Cuts and other types of self-harm injuries
  • Missing property like shoes, books, toys or electronics
  • Acting out in aggression at home
  • Running away from home or skipping school
  • Withdrawal from or obsession with social media

What parents can do

Keeping an eye out for these signs is critical to stopping bullying. If you notice any of these, talk to your child and help them understand you are there for them. Don't force the conversation or threaten them; be supportive and open.

If you do discover that your child is the victim of bullying, you can help protect them by talking to the bully's parents. If these efforts are ineffective or make the situation worse, then you can bring your concerns to school administrators if the bullying is happening at the school. In some cases, the school will act to stop the bullying; in other cases, the situation is ultimately dismissed.

If your efforts to stop your child from being bullied have not been successful, you should not give up. Instead, you can consult an attorney who can help you fight back by taking legal action against a bully, his or her parents and/or the school. 

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