Schoolyard bullies used to steal lunch money and beat kids up on the playground, but technology has made bullies a lot harder to spot. Because, today, instead of relying on their fists, bullies tend to rely on smartphones. Even worse: Only 1 in 3 kids tell their parents that someone’s bullying them. So, parents, here are 4 warning signs to watch out for:
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches. Megan O’Laughlin is a social worker who specializes in helping teens. And she says aching heads and stomachs are the go-to excuses for kids who are afraid to go to school. So, it might be time to take your kid to a doctor. In addition to ruling out a real illness, it could help your child open up about the problem. O’Laughlin says that kids who are too embarrassed to talk to their parents are often willing to talk to their doctor.
- Another sign that your kid’s being bullied: Their grades drop, especially if it’s only in one subject. According to a study in the Journal of Early Adolescence, bullying is usually accompanied by poor performance at school. And if the dip is only in one subject, the bully is probably in the same class with your child.
- The 3rd bullying red flag: Your kid tends to be upset after social events. Bullies like to humiliate their targets in front of groups. So pay attention to your child’s mood when they come home from school functions.
- Finally: Talk to your child if you notice they’re overly-concerned about being popular. Sociologist Dr. Robert Faris says that some victims of bullying start to bully other children because they hope it’ll move them up the social food chain and that even their own bully will focus on the new victim. So, it’s important your kids understand that’s not a workable solution. Instead, encourage them to ignore the remarks, report the bully to a teacher or counselor, and focus on their real friendships.