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How Can I Know If My Teenager Is Being Bullied?

Young People Don’t Tell

There is a culture of secrecy surrounding the whole issue of bullying. The fear of retaliation is a legitimate reason not to disclose bullying as is the fear of others seeing that you can’t cope with the normal cut and thrust of interacting with your peers. Children often decide to put up with bullying rather than confront the possibility of the whole class or school knowing about it. Furthermore, the culture of silence in school is so strong that reporting bullying can be understood to be the same thing as tale telling.

Bystanders who witness bullying often remain silent because they believe it is not their business to intervene. Others may not know how to intervene effectively, or are too afraid to do anything about what they are witnessing. They may be afraid that they will be targeted next. They may have experiences of guilt that they did nothing to stop the bullying.

What makes it difficult for parents to establish whether their teenager is being bullied is that a young person’s response to bullying may have similarities to normal adolescent behaviour, caused by stresses other than bullying. For example, being less talkative at home, showing variations in mood, becoming sensitive about appearance, demanding more money and showing signs of being hungry are often part of normal adolescence. The key thing to look out for is sudden and unexplained changes in your child’s behaviour. These might include:

Physical signs:

Emotional and psychological signs:

Signs related to school:

Is It Bullying?

The Essential Parents Guide to the Secondary School Years - available from Primary ABC
The Cool School Programme

Return to our section focussing on Bullying

Further Useful Articles

What to tell children if they are being bullied

What can I do if my teenager is being bullied ....

Approaching the School .....

What if the School doesn't respond

Stop the bullying before it starts

Dealing with abusive text messages

Is your teenager bullying others - what can you do?

Shyness in Teenagers

Advice for Parents of Shy Children