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According to a 2012 school safety study, only 40% of bullying incidents are reported to an adult.  This is probably due to fears of backlash, humiliation, and social isolation.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.”

I bring this issue up because it is important for parents, as well as educators, to understand especially during “Back to School” month.

Being targeted by a bully can have significant consequences for the victim. If left unaddressed, it can potentially lead to a host of other issues including depression, eating disorders, even suicide. Unless a child tells you about being bullied — or has visible bruises or injuries — it may be difficult to tell. Awareness is the first step; being proactive can make a difference. Therefore, it is important for parents and educators to learn how to recognize warning signs so they can properly assist the child.

Physical Signs

  • Appetite changes
  • Damaged or missing belongings
  • Relatively few friends and/or changing friendships
  • Trouble sleeping, including insomnia, frequent nightmares, and/or tiredness
  • Self-destructive behavior, including self-harm, suicidal speech/actions, and/or running away
  • Frequent, unexplained injuries and ailments, including injuries, bruises, scratches, headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, and general pain

Emotional Signs

  • Depression, moodiness, and/or irritability
  • Fearful of rejection, exclusion, or betrayal
  • Detached and withdrawn
  • Needy or lonely
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Overly-self-critical
  • Overly-compliant
  • Loss of interest in school and activities
  • Loss self-esteem

Victimization Signs

  • Avoiding school, including talking about school
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Accepting the bullying, or denying that bullying occurs
  • Trying to handle everything on their own
  • Lying or bending facts
  • Seeking revenge against bullies
  • Becoming aggressive and maybe confrontational
  • Insulting and/or criticizing others and their opinions
  • Supporting, respecting, or even coping the bully
  • Emphasizing their helplessness and suffering to gain sympathy and protection

Bullying is an issue that all parents should think about; don’t just wait until a situation explodes. It important to talk to kids about the issue even before they exhibit any of the signs listed above.

If your child doesn’t come to you asking for help, go to them. Make sure they know it is okay to ask for help and that you are reaching out because you love them and don’t want to see them hurt. Discuss your child’s options with them and determine whether or not you should take action on behalf of your child, though it is best to let the child or school handle it when possible.

To learn more about the warning signs of bullying and what you can do to help your child, visit and

Mark Bello has practiced law for 40 years. He is currently the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company. Mark is also the author of two legal thrillers, “Betrayal of Faith” which is currently available through major online bookstore and “Betrayal of Justice,” which is scheduled for release later this summer.

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