Is my kid a bully?

– What is bullying? There are three things that a situation needs to be to be bullying:

  • It needs to be unfair- not right, not fair and not equal
  • It needs to be one-sided –  one person or group is trying to hurt another
  • It needs to be repeated- this means it doesn’t just happen once and is not an isolated incident.
  • There are 4 main types of Bullying:
    • Physical: hitting, kicking, pushing, shoving, spitting, kicking, stealing, taking belongings, intimidation
    • Verbal: name-calling, insulting, mocking, taunting, teasing,  racist remarks, gossip, rumors, threatening
    • Indirect/Emotional: excluding from groups, pointing and facial gestures, dirty looks, embarrassing, humiliating
    • Cyber Bullying “The Invisible Bullying”: via mobile phone, texting, computer, email, chat rooms, internet,  Social Network sites such as:  MySpace, Facebook, YouTube

– How do I know if it’s teasing or bullying?

  • Good-Natured Teasing
    • Playful between BOTH people
    • Uses a friendly tone
    • Encourages friendships
    • Doesn’t lead to physical confrontations
    • Sometimes lightens a tense moment
    • I Was Only Joking!
      • “Can’t you take a joke?” Well now, that all depends. Following up a rude or insulting comment with the phrase “I was only joking”, doesn’t mean it takes away the pain caused to the person we said it to?
      • The sting of the hurtful words, even if joking, can have a lasting effect.
  •  Hurtful Teasing
    • Uses angry tone
    • Angry body language
    • Continues even when distress is evident
    • Continues even when the topic is upsetting to others
    • Accompanied by “showing off”

– Characteristics of children who bully

  • Impulsive, hot-headed, dominant;
  • Easily frustrated
  • Lack of empathy
  • Difficulty following the rules
  • View violence in a positive way



Possible Outcomes

People who are bullies as children tend to lead themselves down a dangerous path. They are more likely to :

  • Get in frequent fights
  • Vandalize property
  • Steal property
  • Drink alcohol
  • Smoke
  • Be truant from school
  • Drop out of school
  • Carry a weapon

Real Information

Here are some things to keep in mind when approaching a bully situation:

  • Kids can be scared to go to an adult and even feel that adult intervention can make the situation worse because it may only bring more harassment from the bully.
  • In survey of 14 Massachusetts schools, more than 30 percent of kids believed that adults did little to nothing to be the bullying stop.
  • Sometimes the bully can also be a victim. Remember that they are still kids and they need help as well.
  • While many people think that bullies are loners, the truth is they usually have an easier time making friends and have at least a small friend group that supports their bullying.
  • Kids who bully also tend to have average or above average self-esteem, despite the misconception that they have low self esteem.


  • Make it clear that you take bullying seriously and that there is no tolerance for it.
  • Talk about rules and expectations for their behavior. Praise and reinforce them for following the rules and use non-physical, non-hostile consequences when they break the rules.
  • Observe your child’s activities and behaviors when around other kids. Make sure you know who their friends are and what they do with their free time.
  • Encourage social activities that they enjoy outside of school.
  • Talk to your child’s teachers, counselors, coaches, or any other adults in their life so you can all work together to solve the problem.
  • If the problem persists, consider getting them counseling.


– Teen Lifeline – This is a confidential and free peer to peer hotline where other teens can help you through your tough time. 602-248-TEEN (8336)

– You, as the parent, can also call Teen Lifeline to learn about ways to help your teen if they are a bully.

– You can also find tips online at