Crucial Signs Your Child May be Being Bullied (and What to Do About It)

Stand for the Silent, an organization helping to stop school bullying is putting the warning signs in the spotlight

Most parents are familiar with bullying and have seen the harmful role it can play in the lives of children. While we know what it is, we may not always know the signs to look for to identify it. We are also not usually sure what to do about it if we spot the warning signs. One organization, Stand for the Silent, is on a mission to change that and help end the bullying problem in our schools nationwide.

“We know first-hand how devastating bullying can be and the damage it can lead to,” says Kirk Smalley, co-founder of Stand for the Silent. “We don’t want others to live through the heartache we have endured due to bullying. We want to empower others to help identify and stop it in its tracks.”

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bullying is any unwanted aggressive behaviour by another youth that involves a perceived power imbalance. It can include physical actions, verbal, damaging one’s property, and cyberbullying. The CDC reports that 1 in 5 high school students reports being bullied on school property and that bullying is at its highest in middle school.

Here are crucial signs that your child may be being bullied:

  • Sudden changes in school attendance, avoiding recess, or being withdrawn.
  • Complaining of headaches, stomach aches, or a loss of appetite before going to school and returning home.
  • Having difficulty concentrating, displaying signs of anxiety or depression, or talking about running away or suicide.
  • Has a noticeable difference from other students or a learning disability.
  • Lacks the ability to be self-assertive or has insufficient social skills and body language that reflects low self-esteem.
  • Has injuries and does not provide clear explanations of how they obtained them.

“When we visit schools to do a presentation, we focus on helping to create an atmosphere that will keep bullying from growing,” adds Smalley. “Together, we can help reduce bullying and its harmful impact on our children and, ultimately, our nation.”

Not only can identifying bullying and addressing it help make a child’s life more comfortable, but it can be a matter of life and death and of having good mental health. A study published in the November 2023 journal Current Opinion on Psychiatry reports that evidence indicates that bullied kids have higher odds of developing mental health problems. They say that identifying bullying and intervening is crucial.

The first step is to create an anti-bullying atmosphere in schools nationwide. Identifying that a child is being bullied is the second step. Once it has been identified, it must be addressed immediately. There are things that schools can do to help prevent the problem in the first place. When bullying does happen, parents and educators can immediately address it and speak with the parents of all the students involved.

Smalley and his late wife, Laura, started the organization following their 11-year-old son ending his own life due to bullying. They turned their pain and loss into a mission of helping others. He travels the country giving presentations about bullying to schools, providing bullying prevention, giving out scholarships, offering intervention strategies, and more. Those interested in getting involved can start a chapter of the group in their area, obtain a free K-2 bullying prevention curriculum, host a presentation at their school, and donate to help support the cause. To get more information, visit the site at:


About Stand for the Silent

Started in 2010, Stand for the Silent is an organization on a mission to help eliminate bullying nationwide. Kirk and Laura Smalley founded the group after their child took his own life due to bullying. They offer free resources for parents and educators and travel to schools to host presentations. They have been to over 6,112 schools and spoken with more than 4.6 million students. To get more information, visit the site at:


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