Warning Signals

We have just learnt about the potential consequences that bullying can have on physical and psychological well-being, as well as academic and social adjustment. Thus, the importance of promptly recognising the existence of the problem and intervening to stop it is evident.

The easiest way to discover that bullying is happening is when bullied students open up with someone and talk about their problem. Unfortunately, many victims are reluctant to openly talk about their experience, especially with their teachers.

Think once again to Danny’s story. We have seen that his teacher started wondering about what was going on after he noticed signals of his suffering: Danny’s teacher has noticed that he is often lonely and distressed.”

In the words of a victim of bullying and cyberbullying: “Sometimes a simple word of encouragement would have been enough to make me smile again, because it takes very little to make the sun shine again…”

Adults can indeed identify warning signals—more or less explicit—to notice a potential bullying problem which may warrant further inquiry. Some of these signals reflect sudden changes in school routines and activities, while others refer to the child’s well-being or damage to personal belongings. In addition to these warning signals, there are some specific signals which may indicate that victimisation is occurring online.

Reflection Activity

As you have seen, there are many warning signals to detect a potential problem of bullying. Think for a moment of your own class. Do you think that you would be able to detect these kinds of indicators? Try to think of concrete ways you may be able to “gather” information on these warning signals.

Of course, we should also bear in mind that the presence of these warning signals does not always mean that bullying victimisation is occurring. Could you think of other experiences or events in students’ lives that could be related with similar warning signals?