You remember the picture book image of a bully– a big boy wearing a ‘tough guy hat’ looming over a smaller child. It’s easy to identify the stereotyped playground version of bullying: hitting, name calling, stealing lunches, and ostracizing. These behaviors are hurtful and damaging, but they’re not subtle. Kids who are bullied often don’t tell anyone right away, but some behaviors are easy to spot if we’re looking.
As kids mature the techniques of bullying become more sophisticated and covert. Adults also often think bullying was kid stuff and goes away as they grow up. Since they were small we’ve talked to our kids about bullying and given them tools to let someone know if they’re being harassed, so we’re less vigilant about protecting our kids from bullies once they’re adolescents.
But as the techniques of bullying change it’s harder for our kids (an us) to recognize bullying, The abuses may target sexuality, popularity or body image– acutely sensitive issues for adolescents. Also kids’ increasing independence in using of technology allows bullying to become not a face-to-face exchange, but a form of humiliation that is anonymous and follows them from school to home and all their social networks.
So how is a parent to know if their child’s withdrawal, surliness, or silence is normal or if it may indicate difficulties related to bullying? Here are 14 signs that your child may be bulliedor is a bully.