What is bullying?
Bullying is the act of belittling someone repeatedly through harassment, physical harm, demeaning speech or efforts to ostracise them. Bullying can takes many forms. The three main types being physical bullying, verbal bullying and cyber bullying.
Anyone can potentially fall prey to a bully. It can happen in pre-school, primary school, secondary school and in the workplace. However it is most prevalent in the mid-teen years when children move from primary to secondary school.
Long-term bullying can lead to low self-esteem, lack of confidence, trust issues, anxiety and depression and these effects may be continue to be experienced in the future as well as the present. Knowing how to spot the signs in others - particularly young people, who may feel they have no voice - is an important step to making things better.
Common signs that a child or young person is being bullied
- Becoming withdrawn and lacking confidence
- Coming home with unexplainable injuries
- Being reluctant to go to school, or playing truant
- Becoming anxious or distressed
- 'Acting out' at home due to a build up in frustration at school
- Changes in weight or eating habits
- Decrease in school performance
- Find it hard to sleep
- Beginning to bully other children or siblings
- Changes in behaviour, such as starting to wet the bed when dry previously
- Possessions going missing more than usual
If you think your child is being bullied, try to talk to them to find out if there are any grounds for your suspicions. Give your child space if they don't want to talk, but let them know you are there for them if there is anything troubling them.
If you are the parent of a teenager, spotting the signs of bullying can be particularly difficult due to the quite usual distant and secretive behaviour of this age group. Unchecked bullying can lead to depression in teenagers. Read our article about teenage depression for more information.
The Scottish Government has produced an informative guide for parents and carers of teenagers being bullied. Click here to download a pdf copy.