What is bullying?

Bullying is when a child teases or picks on another child over and over again. Bullying isn’t just teasing. It is about the bully (the child bullying) having control or power over the victim (the child being bullied).

Bullying can happen in school, on playgrounds, online or in public.

Who can be a bully?

All children of any gender can be bullies. A child is more likely to bully others if he/she has been bullied in the past. A child is also more likely to bully others if he/she has seen or experienced difficult situations at home, like abuse.

What are the effects of bullying?

When a child is bullied, it can have the following effects:

  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Doing poorly in school
  • Trouble forming friendships with other students
  • Stomachaches or headaches from stress
  • Trouble sleeping

What makes a child less likely to be bullied or bully others?

There are many positive things that make children less likely to be bullied or bully others, including:

  • Living in a safe neighborhood
  • Warm, loving relationships with family members
  • Strong friendships with other children
  • A caring relationship with a trusted adult

How do I know if my child is being bullied?

If you think your child is being bullied, it’s important to ask your child how he/she feels at school and how others treat him/her.

You can ask these questions to learn if your child is being bullied:

  • How are things going at school?
  • Sometimes, kids get picked on at school. Have you noticed anyone in your class get picked on?
  • Do you ever feel scared to go to school?
  • Do kids in your class bully you at school or online?
  • Who can you ask for help if you are bullied or if you see someone being bullied?

What can I do if my child is being bullied?

If your child is being bullied, you should talk with your child’s teacher, guidance counselor or school principal. Together, you can talk about ways to stop the bullying.

You can also teach your child to calmly and confidently face the bully. Teach your child to:

  • Look the bully in the eye.
  • Stay calm while talking with the bully.
  • Talk in a calm, firm voice.
  • Walk away to get help.
  • Tell a trusted adult if the bullying doesn’t stop or if your child is scared or worried.

What can I do if my child sees someone getting bullied?

Even if your child isn’t being bullied, he/she can play an important role in stopping another child from being bullied.

Teach your child to identify if another child is being bullied and talk to them about what they could do. Suggestions include finding a teacher, parent or grown-up or telling the bully “That’s not OK. Please stop.”

What should I do if my child is bullying others?

If your child is bullying others, it’s important to talk with him/her as soon as possible:

  • Explain that bullying isn’t okay. You should also explain that bullying hurts the other child.
  • Set limits on aggressive (forceful or hurtful) behavior at home and at school.
  • Be a positive role model. If your child sees you modeling good behavior, he/she is more likely to do the same.
  • Talk with teachers, guidance counselors and the school principal to find positive ways to stop the bullying.
Rev. 7/2016. This webpage is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.