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Bullying happens when someone hurts or scares another person on purpose and the person being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself. Usually, bullying happens over and over.

  • Punching, shoving and other acts that hurt people physically
  • Spreading bad rumors about people
  • Keeping certain people out of a "group"
  • Teasing people in a mean way
  • Getting certain people to "gang up" on others

Bullying also can happen on-line or electronically. cyber bullying is when children or teens bully each other using the Internet, mobile phones or other cyber technology. This can include:

  • Sending mean text, e-mail, or instant messages;
  • Posting nasty pictures or messages about others in blogs or on Web sites;
  • Using someone else's user name to spread rumors or lies about someone.


Parents can help prevent bullying by talking to their children and being open and clear regarding expectations about violence.

  • Talk to your child about bullying. Let them know it is never acceptable and they should never participate
  • Look for signs of change in your child’s sleep patterns, their appearance, or a decrease is appetite.
  • Discourage name-calling and teasing
  • Stay in contact with teachers and administrators. They are often the first to see problems.

Warning signs

Possible warning signs that a child is being bullied:

  • Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
  • Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
  • Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time
  • Takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school
  • Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school
  • Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
  • Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments
  • Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
  • Experiences a loss of appetite
  • Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem.

If it happens

Children frequently do not tell their parents that they are being bullied because they are embarrassed, ashamed, frightened of the children who are bullying them, or afraid of being seen as a “tattler.” If your child tells you about being bullied, it has taken a lot of courage to do so. Your child needs your help to stop the bullying.

  1. First, focus on your child. Be supportive and gather information about the bullying.
    • Never tell your child to ignore the bullying.
    • Don’t blame the child who is being bullied. 
    • Learn as much as you can about the bullying tactics used, and when and where the bullying happened.
    • Empathize with your child. Tell him/her that bullying is wrong, not their fault, and that you are glad he or she had the courage to tell you about it. Ask your child what he or she thinks can be done to help. Assure him or her that you will think about what needs to be done and you will let him or her know what you are going to do.
    • Do not encourage physical retaliation.
  2. Contact your child’s teacher or principal.
    • Parents are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials, but bullying may not stop without the help of adults
    • Keep your emotions in check. Give factual information about your child’s experience of being bullied including who, what, when, where, and how.
    • Expect the bullying to stop. Talk regularly with your child and with school staff to see whether the bullying has stopped. If the bullying persists, contact school authorities again
  3. Help your child become more resilient to bullying.
    • Help to develop talents or positive attributes of your child. Suggest and facilitate music, athletics, and art activities. Doing so may help your child be more confident among his or her peers.
    • Encourage your child to make contact with friendly students in his or her class. Your child’s teacher may be able to suggest students with whom your child can make friends, spend time, or collaborate on work.
    • Help your child meet new friends outside of the school environment. A new environment can provide a “fresh start” for a child who has been bullied repeatedly.
    • Teach your child safety strategies. Teach him or her how to seek help from an adult when feeling threatened by a bully.
    • Make sure your child has a safe and loving home environment where he or she can take shelter, physically and emotionally.

Related information

Stop Bullying Now

National Crime Prevention Council:
Cyberbullying Campaign