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Warning Signs of Bullying

Students Who are Bullied

Students who are being bullied often exhibit some warning signs. These students may:

  • Have torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
  • Have unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches from fighting
  • Have few, if any, friends with whom he or she spends time
  • Seem afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus, or taking part in organized activities (such as clubs or sports) with peers
  • Take a long "illogical" route when walking to or from school
  • Lose interest in doing school work, or suddenly begin to do poorly in school
  • Appear sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
  • Complain frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical problems
  • Have frequent bad dreams, or trouble sleeping
  • Experience a loss of appetite
  • Appear anxious and suffer from low self-esteem

Students Who Bully Others

It's important to recognize the characteristics of students who bully, which may help prevent bullying and allow for early intervention. These students may:

  • Have a positive attitude toward violence and the use of violent means
  • Have a strong need to dominate and subdue other students and get their own way
  • Be impulsive, aggressive, or easily angered
  • Lack empathy toward students who are bullied
  • Have defiance and aggression toward adults, including teachers and parents
  • Be involved in other anti-social or rule-breaking activities such as vandalism, delinquency, and substance abuse
  • Have greater physical strength than that of others in general and the students they bully in particular (especially in boys)
  • Be more likely to report owning a gun for risky reasons, such as to gain respect or to frighten others


© 2016 Hazelden Foundation