1. Unexplained scratches and bruises
Scratches and bruises are almost inevitable when kids have fun at the playground. But if you ask them about the injuries and they say they can’t remember or the answer changes, or if the response simply doesn’t explain how the injury occurred, this may be a sign that the child is being pushed around physically, according to Hertzog.
2. Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
Damaging someone’s belongings is a form of bullying, Hertzog said. Oddly torn, ruined, or stolen clothes or other belongings are common signs of playground bullying. Similar to the unexplained bruises, when asked about what happened, the child usually doesn’t want to talk about it or can’t explain it.
3. Faking illness
Very often kids fake aches and pains so they don’t have to go to school, Hertzog said. “Or maybe they just don’t want to get on the bus to school.” If this happens once or twice, the child may just feel like not going to school — who hasn’t had such moments? — but if it happens in a pattern and often, there is probably a legitimate reason for not wanting to be in school, Hertzog added.
4. Feeling sick
A child may be faking illness as an excuse not to go to school but he or she may also actually be sick. It’s not uncommon for traumatized children to exhibit physical symptoms of anxiety, according to Hertzog. Often those are stomach and headaches, she noted.
5. Missing out on sports
Social avoidance does not necessarily mean bullying. But if a child suddenly doesn’t want to go to practice, it could be because someone on the team is bullying him or her, Hertzog said. It is not uncommon for that person to be the coach, she noted. “We consider bullying to be peer to peer, but sometimes the problem is someone older.”