schoolyard bullying

Is Your Child Being Targeted? 5 Warning Signs of Schoolyard Bullying

Bullying on school grounds has seen a recent increase, with many such incidents coming to light in the nation. Most children that attend school often have experiences with bullying, whether actually being bullied or simply happening to be a bystander. As a parent, it is crucial to understand the phenomenon of bullying, as well as identify when your child may be a potential target. 

In this blog, we will be covering the basics of schoolyard bullying, highlighting the warning signs of bullying, as well as understanding the measures that one can take in case one’s children are the distressing sufferers of such aggression.

Listen To This Podcast: Kintan Saraswat's Story, a Brutal Reminder of School Bullying

What is Bullying?

Bullying is defined as patterns of aggressive behaviour that aim to harm or put down another person while also establishing a power imbalance between the bully and the bullied. It is important to note that bullying must involve behaviour that occurs repeatedly and is also intentional to cause harm. Bullying can be physical, verbal or emotional.

Types of Bullying

Having established that bullying is a repeated pattern of behaviour, we must now look at various means by which bullying can manifest itself.

Physical Bullying 

This form of bullying involves the use of physical force to intimidate or harm an individual. It can include kicking, pushing, punching, hitting, shoving, tripping or even spitting. Physical bullying often leaves marks on the subject, thus making it a more apparent form of bullying.

Verbal Bullying

This form of bullying involves the use of words to humiliate or mock a person. Via the means of name-calling, teasing, taunting or mocking, a bully attempts to form a power dynamic over an individual, and this may lead to several effects on the individual that are often hidden from plain view. These include loss of self-esteem or a drop in self-confidence, and verbal bullying may be difficult to escape from in social situations.

Emotional Bullying

This form of bullying often involves psychological manipulations of an individual’s emotions to cause harm. This can include spreading rumours or lies, exclusion from groups and activities, or threatening to withdraw friendship as a form of control. This form of schoolyard bullying is often the most subtle yet most damaging and can often lead to long-term effects on those affected. 

Schoolyard Bullying

Schoolyard bullying, or school bullying, refers to bullying that occurs to students within the confines of school premises. Schoolyard bullying most commonly involves patterns of aggression, with research suggesting that up to 25% of kids face bullying behaviours at school. Out of these, over 55% reported being verbally bullied, and over 32% reported facing physical aggression. 

Impacts of Bullying

Schoolyard bullying has detrimental effects on the lives of those affected. Those who get bullied tend to be physically smaller and possess relatively shy personalities. Bullying can lead these individuals to often develop a negative self-image, see themselves as failures or feel shame and humiliation. These negative developments lead them to be further isolated, which in turn may lead to even more bullying. Furthermore, being bullied can also have a significant impact on one’s self-esteem and lead to poor academic and schooling performance. 

Interestingly, it is not just the bullied who face negative consequences. Schoolyard bullies often face far-reaching trouble well into their adult life. This is due to bullies having a heightened sense of aggressive behaviour and a positive attitude towards violence. The bullies usually possess an increased urge for power and show very little empathy for those they bully. If these tendencies are not pruned in childhood, they may continue into adulthood and can lead to criminal tendencies.

How to Identify Bullying

It is crucial to identify schoolyard bullying to nip it in the bud. However, the trouble arises when schooling authorities do not pursue the matter with the required effort and resources, with over 40% of those being bullied reporting that adults in school did not do anything to stop the bullying. Therefore, the onus of recognising and stopping bullying often falls to the parents.

Who Faces Most Risk?

Most commonly, schoolyard bullying stems from actual or perceived differences among children. There can be several risk factors, and it is very important as parents that you understand these factors to mitigate any risk of your child being bullied. On average, boys have a larger tendency to face bullying than girls. Additionally, kids with any sort of disability face a 66% higher chance of being bullied than those without. 

Furthermore, the most common risk factors include perceived differences in the form of race, identity, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Children with a lack of social skills, or those who were already isolated to begin with, also face a greater probability of being picked on. It is also common practice for kids who are either underweight or overweight to be prone to teasing or taunting. Children who are neurodivergent (conditions like autism or ADHD) may also have increased chances of being victims of bullying.

5 Warning Signs of Schoolyard Bullying

As parents, a child’s well-being is of utmost concern. It is crucial to discern if your child is facing any forms of schoolyard bullying. While some forms of bullying are often easily identifiable, some may manifest in subtle ways, making it hard to understand what your child is going through. We have highlighted some of the most common ways through which you can identify if your child is facing bullying.

Changes in Behavior

One of the most noticeable differences in any child who is facing bullying is a change in their behaviour. These can range from emotional changes, such as increased moodiness or rapid mood swings, to a sudden academic decline. Additionally, the child may avoid wanting to go to school altogether and can feign illness or injury to avoid school-related activities.

Unexplained Physical Injuries

If your child often turns up with unexplained injuries, marks or bruises, there may be a probability that they are victims of schoolyard bullying. If your child has difficulties in explaining any of these physical signs, it may be direct evidence of physical aggression that they are facing in school. Additionally, if your child is coming home having faced a high frequency of ‘accidents’, they should be investigated to ascertain that they are not facing bullying. 

Social Withdrawal

Another warning sign of bullying may be social withdrawal. If your child is spending increased amounts of time alone or doing solitary activities, it may be a sign of social bullying. Furthermore, if your child displays a sudden loss of interest in spending time with friends or a reduced interest in participating in extracurricular activities, it could be an indicator of bullying-induced isolation.

Changes in Eating or Sleeping Patterns

In case your child develops a sudden loss of appetite or starts to overeat, they may be facing anxiety. Additionally, anxiety can also manifest in the form of changes to sleeping patterns, nightmares or difficulty falling asleep. This anxiety could be caused by schoolyard bullying, and it must be investigated. 

Loss of Possessions

While bullying is most commonly associated with verbal or physical harm to the body, it is not uncommon for bullies to destroy or steal belongings to intimidate somebody. If your child has an unexplained loss of belongings, or their possessions often turn up damaged, it may be a sign that they are victims of bullying. These belongings can include clothing, books, stationery, or even electronic devices. 

What to do if Your Child is Being Bullied?

If your child informs you that they are facing schoolyard bullying, it is very important that you, as parents, play a supportive role. You must reassure them that approaching you was the right thing to do and subsequently let them know that they are not alone. It is very important to validate the child’s feelings and absolve them from any guilt. If the bullying is serious enough, it is crucial that you make records of the abuse and then report it to the respective authorities or even law enforcement. 

After reporting the incident to the schooling authorities, ensure that your child doesn't respond to the bullying with an aggressive stance. Instead, encourage them to take up activities and hobbies that will rebuild their confidence and self-esteem, and instil values in them that ensure your child doesn't resort to bullying themselves. Additionally, you can seek professional help and be sure to check up on your child regularly to keep track of how they are doing.

You Might Be Interested In: Is Bullying Illegal in India? Everything You Need to Know


In conclusion, schoolyard bullying is a serious issue that can have profound effects on children's well-being and development. By understanding the warning signs of bullying and taking steps to address it, parents play a crucial role in supporting their children and fostering safe and inclusive school environments. It's essential to listen to and validate children's experiences, report bullying incidents to school authorities, and encourage positive coping strategies.

Samar Takkar

Samar Takkar is a third year undergraduate student at the Indian Institute of Psychology and Research. An avid tech, automotive and sport enthusiast, Samar loves to read about cars & technology and watch football. In his free time, Samar enjoys playing video games and driving.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Health