Bullying is when one child picks on another child again and again. Usually, children who are being bullied are either weaker or smaller, as well as shy, and generally feel helpless. Some kids are at higher risk of being bullied, such as those with disabilities or other special health care needs and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Bullying occurs when there is an imbalance of power. Sometimes children argue with each other or make bad choices in their behavior, which is not bullying.
Cyberbullying takes place on electronic media, using things like social media sites, texting, chat rooms, or instant messaging. Cyberbullying can happen any time—day or night—and is visible to many more people than traditional bullying. It's very hard to undo or hide what the child who is cyberbullying has done.
Facts about bullying
Common traits of bullies and victims
Generally, according to StopBullying.gov, children who are bullied have one or more of the following risk factors:
Effects of bullying
Children who experience any kind of bullying—including cyberbullying—can experience long-term effects, even into adulthood. Bullying can have consequences for both the bully and the victim, who
Talk with your child about bullying
Even if you don't think your child is bullied, a bully, or a bystander, you will be helping protect your child just by asking these questions.
Help your child resist bullying
You cannot always help your child avoid all bullying, but you can help him build coping skills to deal with difficult situations. Spend time with your child, show him love and encouragement, and model good behavior toward others. Talk through difficult situations with your child so he knows he can trust you with his problems.
When your child is bullied
It can be upsetting to find out your child has been bullied. Let her know you are there for her, willing to listen, and taking action to make sure it doesn't continue. Here are some things you can do.
Help your child learn how to respond. For example, “Let's talk about what you can do and say if this happens again."
When your child is the bully
No parents want to think their child would bully another child, but it does happen and parents must be ready to respond. If you know your child is bullying someone, take it very seriously.
Now is the time when you can change your child's behavior.
In the long run, bullies continue to have problems. These often get worse. If the bullying behavior is allowed to continue, these children often become adults who are much less successful in their work and family lives and may even get in trouble with the law.
When your child is a bystander
Most children are neither bullied nor bullies— they just watch. There are things your child can do to help stop bullying.
Last Updated: 10/4/2021
Adapted from Bullying: It’s Not OK, American Academy of Pediatrics, copyright © 2018
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.