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Is your daughter being bullied?

Family Problems

Girls rarely tell their parents when they are being bullied. If your daughter shows one or more of these warning signs, she may be a victim of bullying. Talk with her to find out if she is being bullied.

A child being bullied often:

  • has few or no friends
  • feels isolated, alone, and sad
  • feels picked on
  • feels as if she’s not liked or not wanted
  • claims to be ill
  • changes her eating or sleeping patterns
  • doesn't want to go to school; avoids some classes or skips school
  • shows “victim” body language—hangs head, hunches shoulders, avoids eye contact
  • cries easily; has mood swings and talks about hopelessness
  • talks about running away; talks of suicide
  • brings home damaged possessions or reports them “lost”
  • talks about hurting herself or others

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

If you suspect your daughter is being bullied…

Do:

  • Get the facts: what’s happening, who’s doing it, how long it has been going on, and if the teacher knows.
  • Make sure your daughter knows it is not her fault.
  • Let her know that she does not have to face being bullied alone.
  • Teach her to stand up for herself.
  • Talk about ways of responding to bullies. Role play with her, acting out the different scenarios she might encounter.
  • Tell her to report bullying right away to a trusted adult.
  • Ask her if she wants you to contact her teacher or school.
  • Encourage her to get involved in activities that focus on her talents. Examples include school clubs or sports teams.
  • Encourage her to make other friends.
  • Tell her your own story if you were bullied as a child.

Don't:

  • Tell your daughter to ignore the problem or say things like “It’s just a phase.” or “It happens to everyone.” Acknowledge her pain and listen to what she has to say.
  • Ask children to solve a bullying problem between themselves—because of the differences in power, the child who has been bullied will suffer further. Bullying problems require adult intervention.
  • Tell your daughter to fight the bully—fighting is in violation of the school conduct code and your daughter might be seriously injured.
  • 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 the wrong message to both parties.
  • Call the bully’s parents. The parents are likely to get defensive and may even deny there is a problem.
  • Blame either the victim or the bully. Instead, gather as much information as possible. Look at your own child’s behavior and style of interaction and consider how you might help her to handle these types of situations in the future. Contact the school for assistance.


 

Talk to your daughter.
Is your daughter a bully?

 

Content last reviewed November 11, 2007
Page last updated October 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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