Warning signs of bullying

There are lots of warning signs to be on the lookout for that can help you assess if someone is being bullied. These signs affect those being bullied or those doing the bullying. The biggest step to stop bullying is to be able to recognise it. Just because you cannot see it, does not mean it is not there. Here are some hints to help you recognise when someone is bullying others, or is being bullied.

Some warning signs that someone is a bully

Please note that presence of these signs does not necessary means that the child is bullying someone. It is just signs to look out for. When we say “The bully…” please read it as “The person suspected of bullying…”.

The more of these signs that are present, the greater the chance of bullying occurring, but it does not confirm it. Always approach the suspected bully with tact and do so very cautiously. We will be posting an article later about how you can talk to children about bullying.

  • The bully gets into physical or verbal fights often
  • The bully’s behaviour is turning more and more aggressive over time
  • The bully always blames someone else – is never at fault
  • The bully often has unexplained new riches (like money or possessions)
  • The bully is often very concerned about their reputation
  • The bully does not take responsibility for his or her own actions
  • The bully associates with other known bullies
  • The bully gets into trouble a lot with teachers or other figures of authority

Some warning signs that someone is being bullied

The United States Government’s anti-bulling website has tons of information about bullying. We have cross-checked these signs with several other sources and got to the same conclusion.

Similar to the case of where someone is a suspected bully, be very careful on how you approach the suspected victim. Presence of only a few of the below signs does not necessarily indicate that the child is being bullied. Pressing unduly on the matter may cause the bullying victim to clamp up (reasons for clamping up will be in a later article).

The more of the following items you can observe, the higher the probability that the child is being bullied:

  • The child has unexplainable injuries, or in the case of repeat injuries, the excuse is very flimsy (like “I fell”).
  • The child consistently loses possessions, come home with torn clothing or missing possessions.
  • The child presents with self-destructive behaviours. These behaviours range from talking about (or attempting to commit) suicide, running away, or harming themselves in physical or emotional ways.
  • The child shows increased feelings of lower self esteem or helplessness.
  • The child suffers from lower grades than before for no obvious reason.
  • The child does not want to go to school or loses interest in schoolwork.
  • The child has difficulty sleeping or often has nightmares.
  • The child often feels sick or fakes illness.
  • The child shows changes in eating habits.


There are many more signs, and while this list is not exhaustive, it is a good starting point for anybody who is vigilant. As always, the golden rule: if you see something, say something!

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