Warning Signs of Bullying and Dating Abuse

Warning Signs of Bullying:

Signs a Child Is Being Bullied:

Look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs.

Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are: 

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide

If you know someone in serious distress or danger, don’t ignore the problem. Get Help Right Away!!!

Kids Who are Bullied:

Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:

  • Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
  • Health complaints
  • Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.

A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.

Signs a Child is Bullying Others:

Kids may be bullying others if they:   

  • Get into physical or verbal fights
  • Have friends who bully others
  • Are increasingly aggressive
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
  • Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
  • Blame others for their problems
  • Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity

Warning signs Dating Abuse:

Dating violence can be similar to sexual assault and abuse. Dating violence, early warning signs often begin with behaviors that are not physically violent. These behaviors may violate a person’s boundaries, be emotionally abusive, or otherwise controlling. “Small controlling behaviors might not seem like a big deal at the time, but they can escalate and eventually put someone at risk,” added Pinero. “For example, demanding to know where someone is at all times, touching or pinching parts of someone's body in public when they’ve made it clear it’s unwanted, or controlling what type of clothes someone wears—these are all abusive behaviors that violate someone’s boundaries.”

The laws about sexual violence and dating violence vary by state and situation. The following information is not a legal guide or an exhaustive list—rather it’s a general list of early warning signs for behaviors that are, or could become, violent.

Early warning signs of an abusive partner 

For teens and those new to dating and relationships, it’s can be difficult to identify controlling behaviors from caring behaviors. Consider this list of warning signs to identify unhealthy or abusive behaviors.

It’s not OK for a partner to:

  • Demand details about how you spend your time. While it’s normal for a partner to express interest in your day, it’s not okay for a partner to demand to know where you are and who is spending time with you every minute of the day—or to limit with whom you spend time.
  • Restrict contact with family or friends. Sometimes abusive partners will force someone to cut ties with family or friends who don’t approve of the relationship. Remember that who you trust and spend time with is your choice.
  • Criticize you or what’s important to you. Partners who put you down or belittle your beliefs are not respectful partners. While it’s healthy to have challenging conversations about ideas, it’s not OK to tell someone that their thoughts, opinions, or bodies are not important.
  • Control what you wear or what you look like. Partners should not place restrictions on your clothes, makeup, hair, or other aspects of your physical body. This includes forcing you to eat a certain way to engage in certain exercise routines.
  • Touch you in public without permission. If a partner grabs or pinches you in front of friends or family when you’ve asked them not to, or insists on public displays of affection that you’re not comfortable with, this is a sign of ignoring your boundaries.
  • Coerce or pressure you into physical activity. Coercion can include using phrases such as “If you really loved me, you would sleep with me.” In the LGBTQ community, pressuring someone to “prove” their sexuality is also a form of coercion.
  • Ignore or violate your physical boundaries. Setting clear boundaries about physical intimacy is part of a healthy relationship. If pumping the breaks or asking to stop an activity is seen as “silly” or “lame,” these might be warning signs that a partner won’t respect your boundaries down the road.
  • Control your reproductive choices. Refusing to use a condom, lying about using forms of birth control, or forcing someone to take a hormonal birth control—these are all signs that a partner does not respect the choices you are making for your body and your future.

Support for unhealthy relationships 

It can be unsettling to recognize abusive behaviors in a relationship. Know that you are not alone, and there are people you can talk to.

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

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