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August 15, 2013

Learn the early warning signs of bullying

Children grow and develop their personalities in various ways. While many youngsters are teased or receive some good-natured ribbing at some point in their school careers, some teasing can eventually turn into bullying.

The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Furthermore, more than 70 percent of students report incidents of bullying at their schools. Although children in lower grades have reported being in more fights than those in higher grades, there is a higher rate of violent crimes in middle and high schools than in elementary schools. According to the association Make Beats Not Beat Downs, harassment and bullying have been linked to 75 percent of school shooting incidents.

Bullying can take many forms, and learning the warning signs as a parent can help prevent harassment and potentially dangerous situations.

Verbal: If your child reports being called names, being the recipient of racist, sexist or homophobic jokes, or being spoken to in an offensive or suggestive way, this can be a form of verbal bullying.

Cyber: Social media, email and text messaging has become a way for bullies to spread malicious messages or photos. In the era of digital media, this type of bullying has increased considerably.

Physical: Some bullies engage in physical attacks, including hitting, kicking, spitting, or other forms of physical confrontation. Destroying personal property also is considered physical bullying.

Indirect: Gossiping and spreading nasty rumors about a person is another form of bullying. This type of bullying may go hand-in-hand with cyber bullying.

Signs your child is being bullied

Parents can recognize certain signs that their child is being bullied at school. Bullied children frequently make excuses to avoid going to school. While the desire to stay home is something many children may express, those who are bullied may do so much more frequently. Bullied children tend to avoid certain places and may be sad, angry, withdrawn, or depressed. They may have trouble sleeping or experience changes in appetite, and bullied youngsters’ academic performance may suffer. Also, parents may notice that children return from school missing some of their belongings.

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