Bullying: Help your child handle a bully

Childhood bullying can have lifelong consequences. Listen to your child's concerns. Then help your child stop bullying in its tracks. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Bullying was once considered a childhood rite of passage. Today, however, bullying is recognized as a serious problem. To help your child handle bullying, learn to recognize it — and understand how to respond.

Types of bullying

Bullying is a form of aggression, in which one or more children repeatedly and intentionally intimidate, harass or harm a victim who is perceived as unable to defend him- or herself. Bullying can take many forms. For example:

  • Physical. This type of bullying includes hitting, tripping and kicking, as well as destruction of a child's property.
  • Verbal. Verbal bullying includes teasing, name-calling, taunting and making inappropriate sexual comments.
  • Psychological or social. This type of bullying involves spreading rumors about a child, embarrassing him or her in public, or excluding him or her from a group.
  • Electronic. Cyberbullying involves using an electronic medium, such as email, websites, a social media platform, text messages, or videos posted on websites or sent through phones, to threaten or harm others.

The consequences of bullying

Being bullied as a child has been linked to:

  • Mental health problems. Children who are bullied are at increased risk of depression, anxiety, sleep problems, low self-esteem, and thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
  • Impaired academic performance. Children who are bullied might be afraid to go to school and are more likely to get poor grades. Targets of bullying are also more likely to receive school detention or suspension, miss, skip or drop out of school.
  • Substance abuse. Children who are bullied are more likely to use alcohol and other drugs.
  • Violence. Children who are bullied might be more likely to carry weapons at school. A small number of children who are bullied might retaliate with violent measures.
Aug. 23, 2013 See more In-depth