Pediatrics | Published October 14, 2019 | Written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrician, Mount Nittany Physician Group Family Medicine

When bullying hits home: How to identify the signs of bullying

Craig Collison, MD, pediatrics, Mount Nittany Physician Group

In today’s world, bullying can take on many different forms, from verbal, physical, social, to cyber bullying. In some cases, the bullying may be made up of more than one of these components, too. The first thing you should do, as a parent, is to determine if your child is being physically harmed. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to intervene immediately.

How to talk with school officials about bullying

  • Keep a written record of all bullying incidents that your child reports to you. Record the names of the children involved, where and when the bullying occurred, and what happened.
  • Immediately ask to meet with your child’s classroom teacher and explain your concerns in a friendly, nonconfrontational way.
  • Ask the teacher about his or her observations:
    • Has he or she noticed or suspected bullying?
    • How is your child getting along with others in class?
    • Has he or she noticed that your child is being isolated or excluded from playground or other activities with students?
  • Ask the teacher what he or she intends to do to investigate and help to stop the bullying.
  • If you are concerned about how your child is coping with the stress of being bullied, ask to speak with your child’s guidance counselor or other school-based mental health professional.
  • Set up a follow-up appointment with the teacher to discuss progress. If there is no improvement after reporting bullying to your child’s teacher, speak with the school principal.
  • Keep notes from your meetings with teachers and administrators.
  • Because cyber bullying is unfortunately a risk, you may wish to monitor your child’s texts and interactions through social media so that problems can be identified and dealt with as they arise.

Warning signs
If you’re unsure whether your child is being bullied, you may be able to tell based on a few warning signs, including:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Avoidance of social situations or faking an illness to stay home
  • Poor grades and loss of interest in schoolwork
  • Lost or stolen electronics or personal items
  • Self harm or thoughts of suicide

If your child is experiencing one or more of these signs, it’s important to get help through his or her pediatrician or mental health counselor.

How to protect children who are being bullied

  • Let children know that you care for them and reassure them that they are not alone.
  • Talk to them about the specific situation where they’re being bullied and offer to help them.
  • Bullying is common on school buses. Encourage children to notify an adult if a child is being bullied.
  • Work with another adult such as a teacher, counselor or bus driver to try to solve the problem.
  • Suggest that the child use a buddy system, as bullies are less likely to bother those in a group setting.
  • If the child has signs of bruising, cuts or other physical harm, get help immediately.

Craig Collison, MD, is a pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group Family Medicine at its Mount Nittany Health – Penns Valley location in Spring Mills.

This article originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times