Sadly, it’s very uncommon for a victim of bullying to report this to their parents, which is why parents need to be hyper-alert to signs of bullying, says Rona Novick, PhD, who developed the BRAVE bully prevention program.
She is a clinical psychologist, has worked with schools nationally on the issue of bullying, and is director of the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Doctoral Program at Yeshiva University, NY.
One way a parent can discover clues that their child might be getting bullied is to (without pressure) make the child’s social world a regular area of discussion, says Dr. Novick.
This may seem like a no-brainer to any responsible parent, but the digital age has made this more difficult to accomplish.
Pre-Facebook and iPads, “When friends called the house phone to ask for your child, you knew who his or her friends were,” says Dr. Novick. “Now, a child can live their social life on their cell phones and computers!”
Parents Should Be Approachable
Ask yourself if your child feels at ease initiating any topic to you. Ask yourself WHY you believe that your child would not be reluctant to share a problem with you: a bullying problem.
Have you let your kids know they can come to you about anything without fear of judgment? This is exceedingly important, says Dr. Novick.
Other Signs of Bullying
“A child who wants to stay home from school on the day of a big test is of less concern (for bullying) than a child who wants to stay home from the field trip, or miss a friend’s party,” says Dr. Novick.
Additional signs that can mean bullying include regressive behavior (such as bedwetting), old habits returning (such as thumb sucking or hair pulling), clinginess and social withdrawal, says Dr. Novick.
Also be on the lookout for skin picking and skin cutting. Though these can trigger harassment in the school setting, they can also be the result of bullying by peers.
Dr. Novick is recognized for her expertise in behavior management and child behavior therapy. She has published scholarly articles on school applications of behavior management, children and trauma, and bully prevention in schools.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.