Warning Signs of Bullying

Warning signs of bullying

Warning Signs of Bullying

Are you looking to know the Warning Signs of Bullying? this article covers what you need.


by Chinyere Nwosu



is seen everywhere. However, we sometimes miss the signs. Before proceeding, you may want to see the previous posts on What is Bullying?. You may also want to read these posts – The Effects of Bullying, and the connection of bullying to trauma


Many signs indicate that someone is being bullied or is bullying others. Recognizing these signs can enhance caregivers’, educators’, and parents’ abilities to protect and provide their duty of care more effectively. Knowing and recognizing these signs empowers the caregiver, parent, or educator. It is also

a strong stance against bullying. 


What signs show someone is being bullied or is bullying others?


Bullying manifests in different ways in the bullied and the bully. The signs in the victim and perpetrator are often the same despite age and class. Listed below are signs of bullying in the victim and the bully. Research shows that these signs may manifest as a result of bullying.


Warning signs in the bullied


  • Low self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and anger
  • Appear insecure or frightened
  • Change in eating habits
  • Change or reduced or no engagement in social activities – prefers to be alone.
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Sleeplessness
  • Headaches and stomach aches
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Loss of friends
  • Self-harm like cutting oneself, running away and from home
  • Talking about suicide or attempting suicide
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, jewellery, and other personal effects
  • A decline in performance and achievements – in children and teens, their grades in school decline, in adults, performance at work decline
  • Truancy
  • Loss of interest in work and other activities that the person used to love
  • Change in some routines like changing the route to school or work


Warning signs in the bully


  • Often gets in fights – (physical and verbal)
  • Getting increasingly aggressive
  • Often angry and unreasonable.
  • Blaming other people for his or problems
  • Not taking responsibility for his actions.
  • Being extremely competitive
  • Worrying so much about class, popularity, and reputation
  • Having friends who bully others, forming cliques
  • In schools, the children who bully others often get in trouble and visit the principal’s office often or get detention frequently.


Other issues may also cause these symptoms

Some of the changes in behaviour may not always result from bullying. Caregivers, friends, and well-wishers should pay attention to having multiple of these signs manifest. Seek help if you are unsure.



 Statistics reports on bullying


School Crime and Safety 2018 – 20% of school bullying incidents were reported 

National Center for Education Statistics (2019) – One out of every five students report being bullied

National Center for Education Statistics (2019) – 41% of students who reported being bullied at school say they think it will happen again


Reasons people do not ask for help?


Only a few people who experience bullying report it. Bullies tend to cover up the act. Why do people not ask for help with bullying?



  1. The victim feels humiliated – Children may not want adults to know what happened, especially the sad and embarrassing things said about them. That the statements may be false is irrelevant. What matters is that it causes them to feel sad, shame, or belittled. 
  2. The victim may be afraid of the repercussion if he speaks up. The uncertainty of the extent of the reaction and backlash from the bully and others may cause the victim to stay silent.
  3. The bullied often feel socially isolated. Bully victims often feel that no one cares and no one will understand. This feeling makes them keep quiet and nurse their pain and emotions themselves.
  4. Rejection may also play a role here. The bullied fear being rejected by peers and even loved ones. So, they keep things to themselves to avoid being isolated or marginalized. 
  5. Bully victims sometimes feel helpless. The feeling of helplessness often arises when the bully is older, boss to the bullied, or the boss of the caregiver to the bullied.
  6. The victim may want to avoid people seeing him as weak.
  7. Sometimes, the victim may want to deal with his problems himself.





  1. Feels powerful – the feeling makes him feel good, so he tends to keep the act to himself. The bully may also repeat the act of bullying.
  2. The bully does not want to appear weak in front of his friends and peers. 
  3. The bully worries about his reputation and popularity – If bullying others gets him the fulfillment, he repeats the act and covers up if need be.



Both the bully and the bullied

  1. May assume it is normal behaviour – a major problem associated with bullying is that people see it as normal. Some call it a right of passage. People with this mindset most likely will not speak up when bullied or participating in bullying others. They think it is normal, and there is no need to report the occurrences.
  2. They May be unsure of the reaction of their parents, caregivers, loved ones, and others they deem relevant in their lives. Worrying about disappointing this set of people may stop those experiencing bullying from speaking up.


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