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Bullying - How to Recognize the Symptoms of a Victim

Updated on August 31, 2010

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The Bully and the Victim(s)

Bullying. It is something that students, parents, co-workers can face in school, home or at work.

What is it? Bullying is repetitive and intentional actions that are hurtful to another person. These actions can be carried out by one person or by a group of people. Bullying is not part of a normal group setting nor is it a part of normal growing up behaviour. It cannot be tolerated. Bullying is not friendly teasing. It is intimidation, repeated over and over, and the action is intended to cause physical or emotional harm.

Bullying is a universal problem in the sense that it can occur in any place, at any time. It can happen to children and to adults. It can happen at school or at the work place. Bullying does not have a singular face or a singular action. The importance is to recognize it and learn how to deal with it.

What kind of person bullies? Anyone can become a bully. The behaviour of bullying is a learned one. Quite often, the bully has been a victim of bullying. The bully may have been a victim of bullying carried out by parents, siblings or peers. A bully chooses someone who is weaker than they are. Their chosen target might be a younger person, physically weaker or emotionally weaker. They choose a weaker person as they assert themselves to dominate and to retain control over the victim. It is actions based on contempt, not anger. The bully does not feel compassion or empathy towards the victim. They have no respect for the victim. They believe the victim is worthless and inferior.

How does bullying look like? Bullying can appear in many forms. Some examples include name calling, stealing of lunches/snacks, stealing of property, pushing, hitting, stepping on, requiring payment for protection, ostracizing and so on.

Who notices? Bullying can be carried out without being noticed by teachers, principals or management. The bully causes the victim to become more afraid of him through threats should the victim intend to report the bully’s actions to authority. The victim, who already is afraid of the bully, becomes even more intimidated and fearful of the perpetrator, continues to keep silent. The bullying continues and the cycle continues between bully and victim. It is not unusual for the bully to have more than one victim, yet each victim is kept unaware of each other. In other words, divide and conquer.

How do you stop bullying? The way to stop bullying is for the victim to take action. Action can happen solitarily or with the help of others. In the case of children, it is necessary for the parent or another adult to recognize the symptoms of being a victim to bullying. If you believe that a child is being bullied, ask him or her whether this is happening. It is important that the child trusts you and believes that you are genuinely there to help. If he/she does, then he/she will open up.

Be proactive. Observe. Notice the details. Is he/she coming home with torn clothing? Are there more physical injuries than normal? Are the given reasons for the injuries realistic? Are the injuries normal? Are there mood changes? Are there increased mood swings? Is there avoidance of school (being sick more often without any explanation or proof)? Is personal property being damaged more often? Is personal property damage normal? Is personal property missing and is it occurring more often? Is there increase in appetite at the end of the day? Is there an increase in requests for money or request for increases in allowance? These are all possible indicators of being a victim of bullying. Keep a log of what you find and the date. If there is bullying, this log will help you put things in perspective with the right authorities.

Be open and keep communication open. Listen. Ask questions. Always remind your children that you are there for them and that there is nothing that they cannot speak to you about. Ensure that they understand that they can come and speak to you about anything, even if they think that they have done something wrong or even when someone has threatened them. Children need to know that you are there to help them and to protect them, regardless of who is at fault and of the outcome.

In some instances, the child may be in extreme fear of the bully. In these cases, the child will not open up and admit that he/she is being bullied. If you suspect this is the case, the best option is to approach his/her teacher. Speak openly and follow up with the teacher and the child.

If your suspicions are confirmed that your child is a victim of bullying, take immediate action. Speak to the child’s teacher and principal. Demand their action plan and a resolution to stop the situation. In some schools, the bully is given an in-school detention. The theory is that you cannot teach a bully to stop by bullying him; therefore, implementing “formative consequences that teach” is the answer. In other words, make the consequences something that the bully can learn from. If physical violence has occurred, consider contacting the local police.

Bullying. It cannot be tolerated



Copyright 2009


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    • FirstStepsFitness profile image

      FirstStepsFitness 3 years ago

      Great Topic Beth , This topic is gaining attention rapidly now , openly discussed more , proactive measures are being placed in Schools . With bullying gaining attention especially as it spans social media now , people are recognizing bullying tactics quicker also handling them quicker .

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

      Luke Nother -- What you have said is spot on! I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you for the link!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

      Husky -- Thank you. Wish you were still here.

    • profile image

      zach longest 6 years ago

      Luke Nother

      What is Bullying?

      What is bullying? “Bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things to have control over another person” (definition). Some of the ways they bully people are by calling them names, saying or bad things about them, leaving them out of activities, not talking to them, threatening them, making them feel bad about themselves, breaking their things, hitting them, or making them do things they don't want to do.

      There are a lot of reasons why some people bully. They see it as a way of being popular, or making themselves look good. Some bullies do it to get attention, or to make other people afraid of them. Others might be jealous of the person they are bullying. They may be bullied.

      Some young people are bullied for no reason at all, but sometimes it's because they are different. It can be the color of their skin, the way they talk, their size or their name. Most of the time people are bullied because they won't stand up for themselves.

      Why is bullying a bad thing? Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for young people to learn to fight for themselves. But it’s wrong. It makes people feel unsafe. They also lose a lot of self-esteem and might not want to go to school any more.


    • profile image

      Husky1970 6 years ago

      What a terrific hub on a most important topic. Bullying is far too prevalent and your thoughts on the topic are extremely accurate. As you mentioned, most bullies have previously been victims of some sort of bullying themselves. I was an assistant principal for 5 years and had to deal with several cases of bullying. They were extremely difficult to deal with and to eliminate. In my state of Massachusetts, we had the terrible tragedy of the Phoebe Prince incident, the ultimate tragedy resulting from bullying. Kudos to you, Beth100, for bringing more attention to this topic. Voted up and useful.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Julietta -- Take your son out of the school NOW!! He has done his part -- to speaking to you and suffering the beatings at the hands of these bullies. You have done what you can with the head, you must now go above the head's authority. If you can, take photos with dates and times imprinted on them as you take the photos. Write down all the incidences that you can recall -- include dates, times, what happened, who was present and all the markings that he received. It would not hurt to take him to the doctors. The injury to his head could be a mild concussion which is indicated by his lack of memory. This is serious. The medical doctor that you take him to will have to fill out a report. This is to your benefit. Documentation of what has happened to your son and what you have done to try to rectify the situation are important. Any papers, emails or calls with the head are important. These can be used support your attempts at protecting your son. Your son needs your protection and if you cannot be with him and you have no support from the school, then withdraw him until you receive the results that you want. There must be a superintendent or dean that you can approach. I am not familiar with overseas hierarchy of headmasters and so forth. Please, withdraw your son until this has been resolved. His physical body cannot take any more, but his self esteem and confidence cannot survive under these conditions. Please come back and let me know how this all turns out. I'll be thinking of you and your son. Best wishes Julietta.

    • profile image

      Julietta 7 years ago

      My 6yr old child is being physically bullied by a group of children. What i dont understand is that these children are admitting to what they are being accused of (but playing it down) and are still doing it 2 wks down the line after the head was informed and to me she is getting my child to come in after break and asking him if anything happened which is a joke because he has told me he doesn't trust the school and how can a 6yr old clearly tell what is going on, also his confidence is low and he is also a scared lil boy. I know this is still going on because some days he has lots of bruises and they back up what he told me, i look after when he is in his pants for bed. I mean he told me fri that he was pushed over and then kicked, he told me he couldn't remember where he had been kicked but last night i found under his fringe a bruise in the middle of his head, he still says he doesn't know!! The head also told me she thinks this is just kids playing and taking things too far, could this be a possibility? 4 wks down the line with the same children. These horrid children are 5 and have just come out to the big playground this year.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Cindyvine -- That is the sad truth. Bullying is a chronic problem but it occurs everywhere around us -- school, work, shopping, forums, family -- it surrounds us. I am hoping that if a child cannot speak up for themselves, then an adult or friend will have the courage to speak up for him/her. It would be the step in the right direction. Thank you Cindyvine!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Mythbuster -- My hope is exactly that -- that there will be many people who will read this and benefit from it. Thank you for your support and always rating me up! I love it when you visit! :)

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 7 years ago from Cape Town

      Bullying is a chronic problem in schools wherever you go. Many kids keep quiet about the fact they are bullied.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      I hope this article will be read by a whole lot of people, Beth100. I like how you've given attention in little bits - to each aspect about bullying. This makes your hub very easy to understand, very clear. Thanks for writing! *thumbsup*

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      Raisingme -- Awareness includes understanding the roots that cause abuse. You've explained it very well here. And I agree that bullying can be covert and difficult to spot. Thank you Raisingme!

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Bullies do unto others as they have had done onto them and that unfortunately usually takes place in their home environment in the early, formative years. These individuals feel powerless and therefore exercise the methods they have learned from role models and visit the negative behaviour on others. It is important,as a parent to listen in between the lines of your child's communication as bullying can be very covert and also very difficult to confront and not take personally. Bullying is something that we, as a society, have to confront and deal with to the very best of our ability. Awareness is the first step. Congratulations on your writing on this topic!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Steven -- First, I am sorry that you have been a victim of bullying. The physical trauma heals, but the emotional and mental scars take a lifetime to heal, if ever. Secondly, you are correct that bullies have low self-esteem and thereby pump themselves up by belittling others. Third, it is never healthy to stifle, or push down, your emotions, especially anger. Anger is an emotion that is healthy -- it's a way of telling you to protect yourself by either running or fighting. Listen to it because you have discovered that if you do, you will no longer be a victim. Lastly, no one should ever have to be a victim of any sort of abuse. You are someone, you have value, you are special, you have every right to be here as the next person and you have the right to be treated with respect.

      Thank you for sharing Steven, as I know that it is not easy to do so. I was happy that you had stood up for your rights, and do not be apologetic for protecting yourself. The aggressor should have apologized.

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 8 years ago

      wow, this is a very good hub. having been a victim myself to bullies, i've learned that bullies at heart are cowards. they have low self esteem, so to make themselves feel better they pick on people to build up their own lack of confidence. as deep down, most of them are so used to their victims not fighting back, that many don't know how to fight.

      bullying does come in many forms. i remember i used to get beat up all the time by bullies in school. even in my senior year, at high school, i was picked on by everyone even freshman. however, it wasn't until recently, I finally stood up to a bully that was pestering me. he angered me so much that........well i won't go into details, but you get the point. never before was i so angry as im usually a pacifist in real life, but when he was constantly making fun of me, i lost my self control. i can't even hurt my own dog to scold him, as i usually hold myself back when i get angry. however, this situation was different. all i can say is, he never messed with me again as he knew better after that.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you Ladybird, especially for forwarding it onto others. I agree that our children all face this at one point of their lives. Thank you reading!

    • Ladybird33 profile image

      Ladybird33 8 years ago from Fabulous USA

      This is a very good hub, since our children face this at some point in their lives. I forwarded it onto others. Excellent info. Thanks

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Dohn121, it saddens me to know that you have been a victim of verbal bullying. You are right, words can hurt more and the wounds are deep. Thank you for sharing your personal experience. I hope that through sharing, we will be able to help someone out there overcome a hurdle.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thank you for sharing this Beth! I noticed too that bullying can also be verbal bullying as well. I've seen that more often as a kid than physical bullying. Verbal bullying hurts even more, I believe, and is much more difficult to detect. Words can hurt a lot. Believe me, I know.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Awsydney: First, thank you for coming by and reading. Second, I haven't had any problems providing more than one link that is related to and supports my articles. Another note, all three sites are related. The parent site is with the remaining two under its umbrella. Perhaps this makes a difference. I hope this helps!

      BC: Been missin' ya loads! Yes, I believe in what goes around, comes around -- twice as hard. Enjoy your weekend too! xx

    • awsydney profile image

      awsydney 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Hi Beth, This is a good article and very informative about the subject. I though HP is particular about promoting other websites eg more than 2 external links and I was flagged once. Is the last 3 sites at the end of your article fine with HP? I'm still a little unsure how these all work. Hope you can clarify. Thank!


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