Today is National Stop Bullying Day, a day dedicated to making parents, teachers and students aware of the harmful effects - and penalties - for bullying at school and during after-school activities.
According to the website stopbullying.gov, there are many warning signs that could indicate that someone is involved in bullying, either by bullying others or by being bullied. However, these warning signs may indicate other issues or problems, as well. If you are a parent or educator, learn more about talking to someone about bullying.
Ways to tell if your child is being bullied:
n Comes home with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings.
n Reports losing items such as books, electronics, clothing or jewelry.
n Has unexplained injuries.
n Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches or feeling sick.
n Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams.
n Has changes in eating habits.
n Hurts themselves.
n Are very hungry after school from not eating their lunch.
n Runs away from home.
n Loses interest in visiting or talking with friends.
n Is afraid of going to school or other activities with peers.
n Loses interest in school work or begins to do poorly in school.
n Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed when they come home.
n Talks about suicide.
n Feels helpless.
n Often feels like they are not good enough.
n Blames themselves for their problems.
n Suddenly has fewer friends.
n Avoids certain places.
n Acts differently than usual.
Don't expect a child to report if he or she is bullied. Children are often embarrassed after they are bullied. "You aren't going to tell your mommy, are you?" could be a common refrain from a bully.
Following are some signs that a child my be bullying others:
n Becomes violent with others.
n Gets into physical or verbal fights with others.
n Gets sent to the principal's office or detention a lot.
n Has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained.
n Is quick to blame others.
n Will not accept responsibility for their actions.
n Has friends who bully others.
n Needs to win or be best at everything.
Encourage your child to report bullying. And then follow up on it. If necessary, talk to the bully's parents. If that doesn't work, talk to your school administrator if the bullying occurred on school property. If that doesn't work, then ask to meet with your school board. If necessary, threaten to hire an attorney. If threats don't work, then hire an attorney. There are laws against bullying and schools are legally required to follow them - or face the consequences.