Know the signs of physical bullying

Although bullying often takes a mental and emotional toll, it also can become physical.

Dr. Jennifer Buchanan Walsh, a pediatrician at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says caregivers should keep an eye out for these possible warning signs of physical abuse:

  • Unexplained bruises, scratches and/or cuts;
  • Anxiety and fear of going to school or camp and/or being sad, depressed, or teary when coming home;
  • Child returns home with torn, damaged or missing clothing, books or other belongings;
  • Complains frequently about stomach aches, headaches or other physical ailments, especially prior to school; or
  • Has low self-esteem. 

Dr. Walsh says that caregivers who notice any of these warning signs should talk with the child and the staff at his or her school to determine if bullying is involved.

“Bullying can have serious effects on children, so be supportive of your child’s concerns but never advise them to hit or bully back,” says Dr. Walsh, who works in the adolescent/young adult clinic at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. “While it’s important to take action to stop the bullying, parents should never confront the bully or the bully’s parents, but rather go through teachers or other school staff.”

Visit to learn more about pediatric clinical services at UT Southwestern.

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear