Bullying is a serious concern. Bullied children and adolescents can suffer negative physical, psychological, academic and social outcomes. The negative effects of bullying can also last into adulthood such as an increased risk of developing poor self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Bullying is not uncommon either. Approximately one quarter of young Australians have reported being bullied every few weeks or more.
Parents may find it hard to tell whether their children are being bullied, particularly if they are not informed. One study found that about 45% told a family member and 30% had not told anyone about being bullied. Children may be reluctant to inform adults for a variety of reasons. They may worry that the bullying may get worse by telling someone, being labelled negatively, not being believed or upsetting their parents.
So how can you tell if someone is being bullied? Bullying does not always result in physical injuries. Bullying can take several forms including physical and verbal aggression, social exclusion and spreading rumours. So sometimes the signs that someone is being bullied are not always obvious.
Some common signs to look out for include:
- Behavioural changes –e.g. irritability, school refusal, poor concentration, poor grades, social isolation
- Physical injuries – e.g. damaged belongings/clothing, unexplained cuts, scratches and bruises
- Psychological – e.g. anxiety, reports of feeling lonely, sad and low
- Physical complaints – e.g. insomnia, headaches, stomach aches
- Reports of lack of friends, being excluded or ignored
If you are concerned that someone you know is being bullied or impacted by bullying, please contact the team at YoungMinds and Minds4Health who can offer support for parents, families and individual’s experiencing bullying. Although bullying may not be an issue for your family right now, explaining to your children about bullying and the importance of discussing their concerns can be helpful to prepare them if it does happen.
Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., Monks, H., Lester, L., & Thomas, L. (2009). Australian covert bullying prevalence study. Perth, WA: Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University.
Oliver, C., & Candappa, M. (2007). Bullying and the politics of ‘telling’. Oxford Review of Education, 33(1), 71-86.
Smith, P. K., & Shu, S. (2000). What good schools can do about bullying: Findings from a survey in English schools after a decade of research. Childhood, 7(2), 193-212.
Vanderbilt, D., & Augustyn, M. (2010). The effects of bullying. Paediatrics and Child Health, 20(7), 315-320.