How do I know if my child is being bullied?

Bullying is a serious problem in many schools in the UK, with cyberbullying being a growing and major cause for concern as internet access continues to increase. 27% of those who experience bullying specified that the type of bullying they experienced was cyberbullying and across the UK almost 1 in every 5 children aged 10-15 experience cyberbullying.

There can be a number of signs which indicate your child may be being bullied.

If you are concerned that your child is being bullied, read our article on what to do here. This discusses ways you can support your child and also highlights techniques you can use to work with them to build their confidence.

Some children may confide in their parents straight away, but others may not even realise they are being bullied. Some might feel fear or shame, leaving them reluctant to talk about what is happening to them. However, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for if you are worried your child is being bullied.

A child who is being bullied might:

  • become quiet and withdrawn
  • become reluctant to go to school or makeup excuses not to go
  • also begin making self-critical remarks (for instance, “I’m so stupid”, “I can’t do anything right” etc)
  • complain of physical symptoms such as headache or stomach ache
  • have unexplained cuts and bruises
  • start coming home with damaged or dirty possessions
  • start coming home without possessions
  • become anxious and touchy
  • additionally, become difficult and badly behaved

One parent’s experience:

“My son suddenly became absolutely impossible in the mornings – he wouldn’t get dressed, he wouldn’t eat his breakfast, he was rude and uncooperative. I was tearing my hair out. It wasn’t until I noticed he didn’t have his precious Star Wars pencil case that I suspected bullying. With some very careful investigation, I found out that his entire group of friends had turned against him. It was awful and an absolute minefield to deal with. I was friends with the parents of some of the bullies, and those friendships were destroyed. In the end my son and another boy broke away from the group and became very close.”

For further guidance, the NSPCC and the Anti-Bullying Alliance offer lots of resources and support about bullying. If it is your child that has been accused of bullying, read our article on what to do if your child has been accused of bullying.