Warning Signs and Risk Factors!

Recognizing the Warning Signs

There are many warning signs that could indicate that someone is involved in bullying, either by bullying others or by being bullied.  However, these warning signs may indicate other issues or problems, as well.  If you are a parent or educator, learn more about talking to someone about bullying.



 Being Bullied

  • Comes home with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings
  • Reports losing items such as books, electronics, clothing, or jewelry
  • Has unexplained injuries
  • Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or feeling sick
  • Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
  • Has changes in eating habits
  • Hurts themselves
  • Are very hungry after school from not eating their lunch
  • Runs away from home
  • Loses interest in visiting or talking with friends
  • Is afraid of going to school or other activities with peers
  • Loses interest in school work or begins to do poorly in school
  • Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed when they come home
  • Talks about suicide
  • Feels helpless
  • Often feels like they are not good enough
  • Blames themselves for their problems
  • Suddenly has fewer friends
  • Avoids certain places
  • Acts differently than usual

Bullying Others

  • Becomes violent with others
  • Gets into physical or verbal  fights with others
  • Gets sent to the principal’s office or detention a lot
  • Has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained
  • Is quick to blame others
  • Will not accept responsibility for their actions
  • Has friends who bully others
  • Needs to win or be best at everything


Know the Risk Factors Before Bullying Begins

There is no one single cause of bullying. Rather, individual, family, peer, school, and community factors can place someone at risk for being bullied or for bullying others. Even if a child has one or more of the risk factors, it does not mean that they will bully or will become bullied.

Who is At Risk for Being Bullied?






Generally, children, teens and young adults who are bullied:

  • Do not get along well with others
  • Are less popular than others
  • Have few to no friends
  • Do not conform to gender norms
  • Have low self esteem
  • Are depressed or anxious


Who is At Risk for Bullying Others?

Some people who at risk for bullying others are well-connected to their peers, have social power, and at least one of the following:

  • Are overly concerned about their popularity
  • Like to dominate or be in charge of others

Others at risk for bullying others are more isolated from their peers and may have any of the following:

  • Are depressed or anxious
  • Have low self esteem
  • Are less involved in school
  • Are easily pressured by peers
  • Do not identify with the emotions or feelings of others

Other risk factors for bullying others include the following:

  • Being aggressive
  • Have less parent involvement
  • Think badly of others
  • Are impulsive
  • Are hot-headed and easily frustrated
  • Have difficulty following rules
  • View violence in a positive way



What Does Not Increase Risk:

  • Location. There are no differences in rates of bullying for urban, suburban, or rural communities. Bullying happens everywhere.
  • School Size. The overall percentage of students being bullied does not vary based on school size, although bullying does happen more often in larger schools.
  • Gender. Boys and girls are just as likely to be involved in bullying. Forms of bullying may vary by gender; for instance, some research has found that girls are more likely to bully others socially.

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