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Talking with Your Child about Bullying

Be sure to use language that your child can understand. For example:

  • Elementary definition: Bullying is when a person hurts your body or hurts your heart, on purpose, over and over again. 

  • Middle and high school definition: Bullying involves repeated actions or threats of action directed toward a person by one or more people who have (or are perceived to have) more power or status than their target in order to cause fear, distress, or harm. Bullying can be physical, verbal, psychological, or any combination of these three.

Stress that there is a difference between bullying and teasing. Bullying is both a repeated behavior and involves a power differential (because of social status, age, size, etc.) with the intent of causing fear, distress, or harm. Teasing is an isolated incident with no intent to harm the person.

Types of Bullying

The FCPS Student Code of Conduct defines bullying as “...any unwanted aggressive behavior that involves power imbalance toward other persons; the behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated (complete definition found in KRS 158.148) Note: Acts motivated by race, color, national origin, age, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, veteran status, or any other reason not related to the student's individual capabilities may hinder the other party’s health, safety, welfare, or right to attend school or participate in school activities and will not be tolerated. Further, such acts: (1) are subject to the district’s harassment/discrimination complaint procedure; and (2) may represent serious violations of civil and/or criminal law.

Warning Signs

All students are different, and all children respond differently to stressful situations. It’s important to note that not all students who are bullied will show warning signs, so talking with your child is very important.

Here are some possible warning signs to watch for:

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

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

Questions to get more details from your child:

Have you witnessed any bullying?

Who has been bullied?

Have you ever bullied anyone?

Have you ever been bullied?

Why do you think the bullies are doing it?

Do any adults know about the bullying?

What do you think can be done to stop it?