Signs of Elementary School Bullying

Elementary School Bullying

While many movies and news articles portray bullying as primarily a high school problem, bullying is actually twice more likely to occur in elementary school than in high school. Estimates for the percentage of children who face bullying in American elementary school hover around 10 percent. This bullying is often long-term, taking place on a daily basis. While bullying is more common in the fourth and fifth grades, a student can be bullied at any time in his elementary school career. Noticing signs of your child being a bully victim early will benefit your child significantly, as a child who is targeted for bullying often carries the label of “bully victim” with him throughout elementary school, thereby leading to further bullying.

What are the signs that may indicate your child is the victim of bullying?


You may notice your child has begun to seem withdrawn during family activities, such as during meals or play time. Questioning your child as to why he has may prove unfruitful.

Peer Avoidance:

Your child may begin spending less time with his peers. You may find that peer activities your child previously enjoyed may become absent in his routine. He may also refuse interaction opportunities offered by his peers or peers’ parents.

Changes in school performance:

One common outcome of school bullying is a plunge in grades. If you notice a sudden negative change in your child’s report cards and can think of no reasonable school-related factors that may have led to such a change, it may be a sign of school bullying.

Sleep problems:

Bedtime and sleep tend to be associated with having school the next day. Sudden reluctance to go to bed, problems with falling asleep, and bedwetting are all possible signs of anxiety associated with school bullying.


If your child is constantly coming home from school with scrapes and bruises, it is often an obvious sign of bullying. Injuries in less obvious places, such as on the thighs and buttocks may be harder for a parent to observe, so it may be appropriate to look for other signs of physical damage, such as torn or soiled clothing.

Bathroom habits:

Bullied children often develop abnormal bathroom habits as a result of avoiding school restrooms, which are places where bullying commonly takes place as students are free from teachers’ eyes. If you know that your child refuses to use the restroom or observe that your child immediately goes for the bathroom upon returning from school, it may indicate that he has experienced school bullying.

Eating habits:

The anxiety associated with school bullying may cause appetite loss. Sudden refusal to eat meals or the inability to finish what is served at dinner can indicate bullying.


Absenteeism in the form of frequent non-serious illnesses such as stomachaches, headaches, and general “not feeling well” is often a way for bully victims to avoid going to school. If your child’s sick days have abruptly multiplied without a true medical reason, it is possible that your child is telling untruths to avoid school; it is also possible that apprehension about what takes place at school is arising in the form of stomachaches and headaches.

Safety Education Alliance