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What Are the Warning Signs and Symptoms of Bullying at School?

Warning signs and symptoms of bullying at school can range from unexplained physical injuries to emotional withdrawal and changes in eating and sleeping habits. If you are concerned that your child may be a victim of bullying, you should seek professional help promptly. 

Bullying in schools is a pervasive issue. And with the ubiquitous role that social media continues to play in many children’s lives, the dangers of cyberbullying are a round-the-clock concern. While bullied children used to have an escape at the end of the school day, for those who are online, going home at the end of the school day often simply means experiencing the same vicious and harmful treatment through a different medium.

Just how bad is the bullying problem? According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), about one in five students between the ages of 12 and 18 experiences bullying. On its website,, DHHS also notes that, “[y]oung people who are perceived as different from their peers are often at [the greatest] risk for being bullied.” Other notable statistics include:

  • “[A]mong students ages 12-18 who reported being bullied at school . . . 15% were bullied online or by text.”
  • “In one large study, about 49% of children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month.”
  • “Only about 20 to 30% of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying.”

Is Your Child Being Bullied at School or Online after School?

The consequences of bullying can be tragic. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns against overemphasizing the link between bullying and suicide (stating that, “[w]e don’t know if bullying directly causes suicide-related behavior”), the CDC also acknowledges that, “bullying behavior and suicide-related behavior are closely related.” In other words, at this point, research points to a correlation between bullying and suicide rather than a direct link of causation. However, even if bullying does not influence a child’s thoughts about suicide, the effects of being bullied at school or cyberbullied at home can still be severe.

Several different governing agencies and non-profit organizations have published information about the warning signs and symptoms of bullying. For example, DHHS identifies the following as warning signs that should cause parents to seek help:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • “Lost” or destroyed personal items
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches 
  • Faking an injury or illness in order to avoid going to school
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Loss of interest in school or poor school performance
  • Self-destructive behaviors

The Victoria, Australia State Government website provides a lot of useful information for parents who have concerns about bullying as well. Additional signs and symptoms listed on its website include:

  • Becoming more aggressive or acting unreasonably
  • Getting into fights at school or out of school
  • Appearing insecure or frightened 
  • Coming home hungry or asking for extra money or food
  • Anxiety and mood swings
  • Refusing to talk about what is wrong

This last point is particularly important. As noted above, studies suggest that well under half of children who are bullied talk to an adult about what is going on. There are several reasons why this is the case, and parents need to try to understand why their children aren’t talking to them in order to be able to gain insight into what they are experiencing at school and online. According to DHHS, some of the most-common reasons why children do not tell their parents about being bullied include:

  • Wanting to try to handle the situation on their own
  • Fearing retribution from their bullies
  • Feeling humiliated and not wanting their parents to know what they are experiencing or what is being said about them
  • Fearing punishment or being viewed as weak
  • Feeling as though no one cares about them or understands what they are going through

Additional resources for learning about the signs, symptoms, and risks of bullying and cyberbullying include:


What Should You Do If You Are Concerned That Your Child Is a Victim of Bullying or Cyberbullying?

If you are concerned that your child may be a victim of bullying at school or cyberbullying online, you should try to talk to your child. Explain to him or her that bullying and cyberbullying are real issues, and that many other children have the same experiences on a daily basis. Also explain that bullying and cyberbullying are not okay, and that there are ways for parents, teachers, and school administrators to deal with bullies that will not make the problem worse than it already is.

You should also consider seeking professional help. Certainly, if your child needs (or may need) a doctor, you should seek medical attention immediately – call 911 if necessary. On, DHHS provides links and phone numbers for a number of other resources as well. 

Finally, we recommend that you speak with an attorney. Schools have an obligation to provide a safe learning environment for their students. This also extends to school buses, playgrounds, and other school facilities. Yet, according to DHHS: 

“70.4% of school staff have seen bullying. 62% witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month, and 41% witness bullying once a week or more.”

If your child is a victim of bullying or cyberbullying and his or her school has not done enough to prevent or curtail the problem, then the school may be legally responsible for the harm your child has endured. The psychological effects of bullying can be substantial, and they can potentially affect the rest of a child’s life. From treatment expenses to pain, suffering, and emotional trauma, all financial and non-financial losses suffered as a result of bullying can be recovered under Oregon and Washington law. If you have questions, we encourage you to contact us to learn more.

Speak with an Attorney at D’Amore Law Group

Are you concerned that your child may be a victim of bullying or cyberbullying? Is your child currently receiving treatment for the effects of bullying at school? To discuss your family’s legal rights in a free and confidential consultation, call D’Amore Law Group or contact us online today.

Learn about the signs, symptoms, and risks of bullying and cyberbullying from the attorneys at D’Amore Law Group. Are you concerned for your child? Call 503-222-6333.

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