Signs & Symptoms of Bullying - SOS for teachers & parents

A person may indicate by signs or behaviour that they are being bullied, these indicators can be subtle so parents, carers, family and friends need to be sensitive to the early signs and symptoms. The list below is not exhaustive and behaviour needs to be considered in context, so it should not automatically be assumed that a child displaying one or more of them is a victim of bullying.

The indicators below can relate to many other issues;

The following prompt focuses on 3 areas, children’s attitudes to SCHOOL, a parent or teacher’s general OBSERVATIONS and things a child might SAY.


  • Is frightened of walking to or from school or changes route
  • Doesn’t want to go on the school / public bus
  • Refuses to go to school
  • Suddenly starts asking to be driven to school
  • Begins to truant
  • Performance in school work begins to drop
  • Has dinner or other monies continually ‘lost’
  • Comes home ‘starving’


  • Becomes withdrawn, anxious or lacking in confidence
  • Becomes aggressive, abusive, disruptive or unreasonable
  • Starts stammering
  • Changes their usual routine
  • Feels ill in the mornings
  • Comes home with clothes torn, property damaged or ‘missing’
  • Has unexplained cuts or bruises
  • Bullying others
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Changes in a child’s attitude to accessing technology
  • Afraid to use the internet or mobile phone
  • Nervous or jumpy when a cyber message is received

S - SAY: things they might say?

  • Threatens or attempts suicide
  • Threatens or attempts self harm
  • Threatens or attempts to run away
  • Cries themselves to sleep at night or has nightmares
  • Asks for money or starts stealing money
  • Is frightened to say what is wrong
  • Gives improbable excuses for their behaviour.