Bullying involves repeated acts of physical, emotional, or social behavior that are intentional, controlling, and hurtful. Bullying can also occur through e-mail, web sites, blogs, text messaging, digital video, and online chat rooms; this is called cyber-bullying. Be alert and consider the following:

  • Bullying is defined by a power imbalance between the bully and the target.
  • A bully's power can be derived from physical size, strength, verbal skill, popularity, or gender.
  • A bully's target feels tormented, helpless, and defenseless.
  • Bullying can include hitting, name-calling, threatening, intimidating, kicking, spreading rumors, teasing, pushing, tripping, excluding someone from a group, or destroying someone's things.

Is Your Child Being Bullied?

If your child exhibits one or more of these warning signs, he/she may be a victim of bullying. Talk with your child to explore further whether or not he/she is being bullied.

A Child Being Bullied Often:

  • Withdraws socially, has few or no friends.
  • Feels isolated, alone, and sad.
  • Feels picked on or persecuted.
  • Feels rejected and not liked.
  • Frequently complains of illness.
  • Doesn't want to go to school; avoids some classes or skips school.
  • Brings home damaged possessions or reports them "lost."
  • Cries easily; displays mood swings and talks about hopelessness.
  • Has poor social skills.
  • Talks about running away; talks of suicide.
  • Threatens violence to self or others.
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
  • Takes, or attempts to take, "protection" to school (a stick, knife, gun, etc.).
  • Displays "victim" body language - hangs head, hunches shoulders, avoids eye contact.

Children being bullied may show some of these signs, or may show few.

If You Suspect Your Child Is Being Bullied


  • DO make sure your child knows being bullied is not his or her fault.
  • DO let your child know that he or she does not have to face being bullied alone.
  • DO discuss ways of responding to bullies.
  • DO teach your child to be assertive.
  • DO tell your child to report bullying immediately to a trusted adult.
  • DO look at your own child's behavior and style of interaction and consider how you might help him/her to handle these types of situations in the future.
  • DO contact the school for assistance.


  • DON'T ask children to solve a bullying problem between themselves - because of the differences of power, the child who has been bullied will suffer further. Bullying problems require adult intervention.
  • DON'T advise the bullied child to fight the bully - fighting is a violation of the school code of conduct and the child might be seriously injured.
  • DON'T try to mediate a bullying situation. Bringing together children who are bullied and those who do the bullying, to "work out" the problems between them, generally is not a good idea. It may further victimize a child who is being bullied and it sends a wrong message to both parties.
  • DON'T focus blame on either victim or the bully. Instead, gather as much information as possible.



Warning Signs That Your Child May Be A Bully

A Bully Often:

  • Seeks to dominate and/or manipulate others.
  • Enjoys feeling powerful and in control
  • Seems to derive satisfaction from others' fear, discomfort, or pain.
  • Is good at hiding behaviors or doing them where adults can't notice.
  • Is excited by conflicts between others.
  • Blames others for his/her problems.
  • Displays uncontrolled anger.
  • Has a history of discipline problems.
  • Displays a pattern of impulsive and chronic hitting, intimidating, and aggressive behaviors.
  • Has a history of violent and aggressive behaviors.
  • Displays intolerance and prejudice towards others.
  • May use drugs or alcohol or be a member of a gang.
  • Lacks empathy towards others.

Children who are bullies may show some of these signs, or may show few.

Bullying Prevention

Prevent your child from becoming a VICTIM:

  • Instill self-confidence in your child.
  • Help your child establish good social skills.
  • Teach your child to speak out for himself or herself.
  • Teach your child to seek help, if harassed, from you and other caring adults.

Prevent your child from becoming a BULLY:

  • Present yourself as a model of nonviolent behavior.
  • Clearly state that violence is not acceptable.
  • Assist your child in finding nonviolent strategies for anger management and conflict resolution.
  • Seek help from school personnel.



Take Action Against Bullying

Did you know that research has found that remarkable things can happen if parents and caregivers spend at least 15 minutes of undivided time a day listening and talking with their children? Research also tells us that children really do look to their parents and caregivers for advice and help about difficult choices and decisions.

Whether focused on bullying or on general principles of healthy development and behavior, the messages exchanged between children and their parents and caregivers in just 15 minutes or more a day can be instrumental in building a healthier and safer future for children.

Go ahead, get started with these helpful conversation starters:

Make Time to Listen, Take Time to Talk - about Bullying is a SAMHSA initiative. All the information provided on this page was taken from the Make Time to Listen, Take Time to Talk - about Bullying campaign.

Anti-Bullying Information