Does Back to School Mean Back to Bullying?

The long, lazy days of summer have come to an end and given way to the frenzy of back to school and all the activities that go along with it. While many teens look forward to going back to school and seeing their friends, it can also be a harrowing and stressful time for other teens who have been victims of bullying.

Doorways Arizona Blog: Does Back to School Mean Back to Bullying?

Bullying can be physically and emotionally damaging for teenagers and leave scars that take a long while to heal. Teens are especially susceptible to developing low self-esteem and even suicidal thoughts or actions when they are being bullied at school.

To prepare for the upcoming school year, here are some answers to common questions about bullying, from experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine:

What is bullying?

Bullying is any form of physical, emotional, or psychological aggression that is imposed upon an individual repetitively. Bullying also involves demonstrating power over another person or exploiting imbalances in strength or power.

How prevalent is bullying?

Unfortunately, bullying has become more and more common each year, and usually begins to surface in schools in November or December each year. According to, 28 percent of students between grades six and twelve have experienced bullying. 15 percent have been cyberbullied. Additionally, over 70 percent of students admit to witnessing bullies at school.

With such strong statistics, it is hard to argue that bullying is not a major problem that teens today must face as they try to grow, develop, and learn.

What types of teens typically become victims of bullies?

Bullying can happen to any teenager. However, bullies more commonly select victims who they see as less powerful than they are, or as different from themselves. Teens demonstrating signs and symptoms of depression are often being bullied, but are afraid or ashamed to discuss it openly.

What does bullying really look like?

There are several ways that teens can be bullied, including:

  • Physical
  • Verbal
  • Reactive
  • Relational
  • Cyber

Physical bullying occurs when one teen uses physical actions to harm another teen, such as hitting, kicking, biting, fighting, etc.

Verbal bullying happens when one teen seeks to diminish another through cruel words, name-calling, or mocking.

Reactive bullying happens when a previously bullied teen takes on the behaviors of a bully, and begins mistreating others.

Relational bullying takes place when one teen harms another emotionally by excluding them from peer groups or activities.

Cyber bullying occurs when teens are regularly and purposely bullied through online interactions such as gaming, social media, and text messages. While conventional bullying has been present in teen’s lives for a very long time, cyber bullying is somewhat new. Due to the expansive power of the internet, cyber bullies can expound upon their damaging behavior by making it publicly visible online for many to see and share.

How does bullying make teens feel?

Bullied teens will quickly lose self-esteem and feel worthless and demoralized. Many teens are fearful about opening up to others in their life about being bullied, and will keep it to themselves rather than seek help. Sometimes a bullied teen will even reverse their own behavior and become a bully themselves to try and restore the power balance in their life.

What can parents and other trusted adults do to help bullied teens?

One of the most important things parents can do to help a bullied teen is to stay involved and in tune with their teen’s life, activities, and friends. If a parent notices any changes in interests, friend groups, or behavior, then they should begin an open, supportive dialogue with their teen to get to the root of the issue.

What advice should parents give to their teenagers about bullying?

Parents of teen bullying victims can use these tactics and ideas to help their teen cope and recover from bullies:

  • Remain calm and supportive
  • Assure your teen they are not to blame for being bullied
  • Teach your teen how to stand up for themselves in healthy, nonviolent ways
  • Give your teen coping and safety ideas to use when bullying occurs, such as walking away, seeking the help of a trusted adult, or finding a safe place
  • Teach your teen about the importance of friendship

How should a teen’s school react to bullying?

School should be a safe environment for learning, fun, and friendships. For these reasons, many schools are creating strict anti-bullying rules and enforcing a safe, healthy learning environment by implementing enforceable codes of ethics all students must abide by if they want to remain in attendance at the school.



Does going back to school mean going back to bullying? (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2016, from


Is Your Teen Being Bullied? 15 Signs to Look For, and What to Do as a Parent

As your teen develops socially, they’ll most likely find new things to interest them and form new friendships in the process. The duration of teen friendships can seem somewhat erratic, much like teenage emotions and behaviors themselves. Interaction among teens will almost always include some form of jesting, teasing, or playfulness, as teens form their personalities, humor, and themselves. While much of this behavior is all part of the normal growth path to maturity and adulthood, far too often teens are taking the teasing to the bullying level, which is focused on intentionally being unkind and hurtful to others.


Teens won’t often confide in others if they’re feeling scared or threatened, so as a parent, it is important to know common signals that indicate bullying, so you can be aware and help your teen if he or she is the victim of bullying.

Is Your Teen Being Bullied? 15 Signs to Look For, and What to Do as a Parent

15 Common Signs Your Teen Is Being Bullied

According to, these are some of the most common signs that indicate your teen is being bullied at school. Every teen can have a bad day, a disagreement with a friend, or a poor attitude, so it is important to look for patterns of repeated bullying signs or behavior.

1. Unexplained cuts, scrapes, or bruising
2. Loss of toys, school supplies, lunch money, or electronics that your teen insists they lost
3. Loss of interest in school or extracurricular activities
4. Refuses to ride the school bus
5. Sudden fear of being alone, or excessive clinginess with you
6. Sudden change in mood or personality, or in eating and sleeping habits
7. Frequent complaints of illness, headache, stomachaches, and trips to the nurse at school
8. Difficultly sleeping such as crying or bedwetting
9. Sudden bullying behavior toward younger siblings
10. Refusing to use the bathroom anywhere but at home
11. Sudden change in friends, or no desire to hang out with their usual group of friends
12. Significant drop in grades
13. Sullen behavior and talk of feeling worthless or not good enough
14. Speaking about suicide
15. Running away from home


What to Do if You Suspect Your Teen is Being Bullied

If your teen is exhibiting any of these signs regularly, then it is important for you as a parent to recognize the signals, and try to help your teen deal with the bullying situation. Your teen may not come forward themselves to let you know what is going on, as bullied teens often feel too scared or ashamed to tell their parents or other trusted adults.

Empowering Parents recommends taking these steps to help your teen handle a bullying situation:

Speak openly together, and as a family
Let your teen know that you are there for them, and don’t place any blame or judgement on them or their bully. Offer your support, and allow your teen the opportunity to speak freely and openly.

Help your teen build a strategy to deal with their bully, including things such as:
• Teaching your teen not to react out of fear
• Having a “Walk Away” Slogan ready to use and exit a bullying situation
• Ignoring the Bully
• Using the Buddy System with a friend at school
• Talking to trusted adults at home or at school


When to Get Involved or Get Help

If the bullying situation your teen is enduring continues to escalate despite using these various ideas and tactics, then it may be a good time for you to get involved as a parent. Before you step in however, be sure that you speak openly with your teen, letting them know you are there to support, help, and protect them. Be sure that they know and understand that they deserve to be safe and happy at school, and that you want to help them. Often times knowing someone more powerful than their bully is on their side will help them build confidence and gain peace.


If you need support and help with a bullying situation as a parent, then it is always a good idea to contact a teen counselor or specialist to help you and your teen find your way safely out of a bullying situation at school.

Name Calling: When to Get Involved as a Parent

From January 18-22, students across the nation were encouraged at school to treat one another with respect, and address each other with only kind words in honor of No Name Calling Week. This is currently one of the largest anti-bullying initiatives moving among the youth in America.


Name Calling: When to Get Involved as a Parent
This beautiful movement is gaining popularity, and supporting the value of virtues such as respect and kindness to teens. However, the issues of name calling and bullying do still exist every week of the year for many teenagers.


As the parent of a teen, it is very important to know when and how to get involved if your teen is being called unkind names at school, or is calling others names.


What is Name Calling and Why Do Teens Call One Another Names?

Not all teasing is malicious. In fact, teens frequently tease one another in friendly manners that demonstrate endearment, closeness, and shared memories.

According to Earlychildhood News, however, name calling is a variation of teasing that children and teens use to assert and test their power and dominance over their peers. The tone and intent of this type of teasing are usually both aimed to hurt, diminish, or overpower another person.

So why do some teens name call, while others do not? The reasons can be varied, but name calling is a typically a patterned behavior that a teen has learned from their parents, siblings, friends, or television.


What Happens if an Adult or Parent Intervenes?

As the parent of a teen who is being hurt by teasing and name calling, it’s very difficult not to immediately intervene and attempt to diffuse and correct the situation on your teen’s behalf. Depending on the situation and the teens involved, it is also hard to determine if your actions will help resolve the conflict or fuel it further.

Common results of parental intervention include:
• The victim of name calling feels weak or powerless by a parent coming to their defense, which ultimately makes them feel worse about themselves.
• The teen doing the name calling loses further respect for the person they’re bullying because they did not stand up for themselves.
• The teen being called names becomes reliant on parental or adult involvement to resolve conflicts or issues with peers.
• The name calling teen will cease their teasing when parents or adults are present, but will continue when they are not present.
• The name calling will stop entirely, and the teens will become, or return to being, friends.

The last result is ideal for everyone involved, and it does happen often times when parents become involved, but only if parents intervene at the right time, in the correct manner.


Guidelines for When to Get Involved

Israel Kalman is a school psychologist who created the program Bullies 2 Buddies, which is designed to help adolescents learn how to resolve conflicts on their own. He asserts that teaching teens to diffuse negative comments will help them become stronger and more resilient in dealing with confrontation and conflicts positively.

If you learn that your teenager is being called names, or is the one calling others names at home or school then you can use these questions to help guide your involvement decision.

Is the teasing fun for both teens?
If both teens seem to be having fun, and are jesting each other in harmless ways, then you probably do not need to intervene unless the situation escalates or the teasing becomes cruel or derogatory.

Is there an underlying problem or argument driving the name calling?
If the name calling or teasing happening appears to be a result of an underlying conflict or issue the teens are having with one another, then it is a good time to involve yourself. Stop the name calling, and ask both teens to speak to you about why they are upset, and guide them in resolving their conflict together based on what you discover.

Do the name calling instances occur repetitively?
If you notice that teasing occurs repeatedly, and that one of the teens involved may be getting upset or hurt by certain names, this is a good time to intervene. Ask the teen being teased if they are okay, and if they indicate they are bothered, then help them firmly tell the other teen to stop.

What does your intuition and judgement say?
Always trust your guiding, parental intuition and judgement when considering when to intervene. If you feel strongly that you need to help resolve the situation, then you are most likely correct.


If your teen is being called names, or has a problem bullying or calling others names at home or school, and you feel the situation has grown beyond your control, always consult a professional counselor or therapist to help you and your teen.

Let’s Stomp Out Bullying


Know these bullying warning signs (photo

The message of this year’s National Bullying Prevention Month awareness campaign is ‘No Matter’ as in, no matter who you are, what you look like, or what makes you different from me, we are all people and no one deserves to be bullied.

No matter who you are it is likely that you have had to deal with a bully at some point in your life. Whether it was the kid on the playground, the group of girls in high school, or the boss that made life miserable, bullying is a problem in our society. Unfortunately, we now know that what has been seen as just a part of life or even a rite of passage can cause real, lasting damage that can impact the rest of a person’s life.

According to StopBullying.Gov, bullying doesn’t only affect those who are being bullied; it also negatively affects the bullies themselves and anyone who witnesses it.

Kids who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, to struggle with anxiety issues, to feel isolated, sad, and alone, and to experience changes in their eating, sleeping, and activity patterns. Children and teens who are bullied may not live up to their academic potential or participate in school activities, both of which can limit their access to higher education opportunities and high paying careers. They are also at a greater risk for missing school, skipping school, and dropping out of school altogether.   In rare cases, children and teens who are bullied can lash out with extreme violence and almost all the school shootings in the 1990s were committed by victims of bullying.   All of these effects can continue to impact that person for the rest of their lives.

When children and teens bully others it can also affect the rest of their lives. These children are more likely to engage in violent, risky behavior as teens and as adults. They also have an increased risk for alcohol and/or drug abuse, participating in criminal activities like fighting and vandalizing property, and for dropping out of high school.   Those who bully are more likely to become sexually active early on, to be convicted of a crime, and to be abusive to their spouses and children in the future.

Those who are not bullied themselves and who do not participate in bullying others but who simply witness bullying do not go untouched.   These children and teens are more likely to smoke, drink, and use drugs during adolescence. They also have an increased risk for mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

This understanding of just how much bullying affects the lives of our teens and their futures highlights the importance of doing what you can to help stomp out bullying in your family, your school, and your community this month. For more information on bullying and its effects and to learn more about what you can do to help, here are some helpful resources. from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

National Bullying Prevention Center

Bullying Prevention Resource Guide from The Partnership for Children and Families

Is My Child Being Bullied? Action Steps for Parents from the Huffington Post

When Your Child is the Bully from the New York Times


Dating Violence: The Things Parents Should Look For

Make sure you know the warning signs  to protect your teen from dating violence (photo credit:

Make sure you know the warning signs to protect your teen from dating violence (photo credit:

Unfortunately, dating violence is all too prevalent amongst today’s teens. The signs of it occurring may not be easily observable, and your teen may even try to hide that it’s happening to them.  So, as a parent, it is imperative to know the warning signs of dating violence and the things to be on the lookout for.

Things Parents and Friends Should Look For:

  • Withdrawing from friends, family & activities they used to enjoy.
  • Avoiding places or people without explanation.
  • Fear of breaking up with partner.
  • Feeling tied down, feeling like he/she has to check-in.
  • Fear of making decisions or bring up certain subjects so that the other person won’t get mad.
  • Trying harder and loving the boyfriend/girlfriend enough in order to make everything fine.
  • Crying a lot, being depressed or unhappy.
  • Worrying and obsessing about how to please his/her partner and keep them happy.
  • The physical or emotional abuse getting worse over time.  (Red Flag Campaign website)

What To Do:

  • Call the police (911) if there are signs of abuse (bruises, fat lips, unexplained marks).
  • Encourage your loved one to talk to a counselor or someone from the domestic violence hotlines.

If you know someone you suspect may be a victim of dating violence, please don’t delay in intervening and getting them the help, and protection, they may need. For a list of additional resources, please see our Resources page.

The ABCs of Children’s Mental Health

Mental Health Resources

Here are some great resources to help you understand the ABC’s of mental health (photo credit:

May is Children’s Mental Health Month which is a great time to talk about where parents can find more information about the mental health conditions their adolescents may be struggling with. While there is no substitute for the expertise and information provided by a qualified mental health practitioner, this version of the ABCs can help parents learn more about the mental health conditions commonly seen in teenagers so they have the information they need in order to know when it is time to seek help, what questions to ask, and how to ensure their child or teenager gets the mental health support and services they need.


Bipolar Disorder

  • Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens: A Parent’s Guide from the National Institute of Mental Health
  • Children and Teens with Bipolar Disorder from
  • Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology
  • Children and Adolescents with Bipolar Disorder from the National Alliance on Mental Illness


Cutting and Self Harm

  • Understanding Teen Cutting and Self Injury from
  • Self Injury and Cutting from the Mayo Clinic
  • Self Injury in Adolescents from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology
  • A Silent Cry for Help: Understanding Self Harm from Psychology Today


Eating Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology
  • OCD in Children and Teens from the International OCD Foundation
  • Child and Adolescent OCD from the National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • OCD in Teens from Beyond OCD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Suicide Prevention

  • Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide website
  • Preventing Youth Suicide – Tips for Parents and Educators from the National Association of School Psychologists
  • Teen Suicide is Preventable from the American Psychological Association
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Related Articles:

7 Signs Your Teen May Be Having Suicidal Thoughts

Do you know the warning signs that your teen may be thinking about suicide? (photo credit:

Do you know the warning signs that your teen may be thinking about suicide? (photo credit:

When it comes to teen suicide, there is no such thing as being too cautious, too concerned, or too vigilant.   According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), more than 2 million adolescents in the U.S. attempt suicide each year and 2,000 succeed.  With an estimated 2.6% of students exhibiting suicidal behavior that required treatment from a doctor or nurse, it is very important that parents, educators, and others take any threat of suicide seriously.

As any parent knows, the teen years are full of changes, struggle, confusion, pressure, and stress.  And that is under normal circumstances.  When the normal challenges of the teenage years are exacerbated by other circumstances like being bullied, parents who are divorcing, having to move, or a mental illness, teenagers can see suicide as a way to solve their problems.  The good news is that treatment can be very effective at alleviating these thoughts.

The key to helping your teen is to know what the signs are, recognize the signs, and get help.  Here are 7 of the signs that your teen may be having suicidal thoughts.

1.     Suicidal Talk

One of the hallmarks of someone who is contemplating suicide is that they will talk about it openly.  Be alert for suicidal statements or a sudden preoccupation with death or dying.  Suicidal talk can also include making statements about being a bad friend, being a bad person, or other negative self-talk that revolves around how much better others would be if they were gone.   Suicidal talk may also be more subtle, consisting of defeatist statements like “nothing matters,” “soon it will all be over,” and “I won’t cause problems for other people for long.”

2.     Saying Goodbye/Letting Go

Another sign that someone may be thinking about suicide is that they start letting go of their life and saving goodbye to loved ones.  This can manifest as giving away treasured belongings, pulling away from friends and family, or seeming to put things in order by cleaning their room and telling loved ones how they feel about them.

3.     Ceasing to Care

Ceasing to care about things like personal appearance, recognition, or anything at all can also be a warning sign that suicidal thoughts are present.  If your teenager suddenly stops caring about their physical appearance or hygiene or seems locked in a place of sadness where they feel worthless, guilty, or irritable, or becomes completely indifferent to everything good or bad in their life, they may be struggling with suicidal thoughts.

4.     Acting Out

When teenagers act out, expressing aggressive or hostile behavior towards others and participating in risky behavior, it may be a warning sign that they are struggling with suicidal thoughts.  Pay attention to things like running away from home, driving recklessly, participating in self-harm, or engaging in sexually promiscuous behavior.

5.     Significant Personality or Behavior Changes

While many teenagers experience rapid changes in their behavior or personality as a normal part of adolescence, these changes can also be a sign of suicidal thoughts.  If someone experiences an extreme personality shift, a significant change in lifestyle habits like eating or sleeping, or shows symptoms of depression or other mental health conditions, they may be experiencing or at risk for suicidal thoughts.

6.     Risk Factors

In addition to the signs above, parents should be aware that there are some factors that may increase the risk for suicidal thoughts.  These risk factors include:

  • Mental health conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, and problems with substance abuse
  • A parent or family member with a mental health condition
  • A parent or other family member dealing with substance abuse
  • A previous attempt at suicide
  • Having someone in their life like a friend, family member, or role model who recently committed suicide
  • A history of sexual abuse or growing up in an abusive environment
  • Participating in self-harm behavior

 7.     Triggering Events

In addition to the signs and risk factors listed above, parents need to be aware that there are some events that have been associated with an increased risk of suicide.  These triggering events include the loss of a parent or other family member, divorce, substance abuse, experiencing a major disappointment, dealing with a chronic illness, struggling with sexual identity or orientation, being bullied, and experiencing problems at school.

What Your Teen isn’t Telling You about Bullying

English: this is my own version of what bullyi...

Teenagers are often bullied in silence. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bullying happens everyday. But, what many parents don’t realize is that most of it is never reported to an adult.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, only one third of bullying incidents are reported to adults.  This often means that parents are unaware of the torment, humiliation, and abuse their children are suffering at the hands of their peers.  It also means that the parents of the bullies are also unaware of their child’s behavior and therefore unable to intervene.

One of the questions we get asked a lot is why kids who are being bullied don’t ask for help.  While there are many different reasons a specific teen would choose not to report an incident of bullying, there are several common reasons we have seen in our clients.  Bullying can make teens feel powerless which includes feeling powerless to stop the abuse.  Sometimes, they don’t report it simply because they don’t believe it will make a difference.  Teens may also choose not to report bullying because they feel like handling it on their own gives them back a little of the power and control they feel they have lost.  Others may be afraid of retribution or of being bullied more for being a snitch.

Another reason teens don’t report bullying behavior is because it would expose something they don’t want to share with their parents.  Humiliation and nasty gossip are often a part of bullying and may be an exaggeration or an exposure of something that is true but secret – like experiencing some sexual confusion.  The teenager may feel that in order to report the bullying, they would have to divulge and discuss their secret which they are not ready to do.

These are just some of the reasons that teenagers who are being bullied suffer in silence.  The problem for parents is that being bullied and being a bully, and even being a witness to bullying behavior can have real, long-lasting repercussions.

Teens who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, suffer from anxiety disorders, feel sad and alone, lose interest in hobbies, sports, and interests, and struggle with sleep or food.  Being a victim of bullying can also impact school performance and school attendance and may decrease the likelihood of graduating from high school which compromises their future opportunities. These problems can last well into adulthood impacting every aspect of their adult life.

Teens who bully others are more likely to struggle with substance abuse problems both as teens and as adults.   They are also more likely to get in frequent fights, participate in violent behavior, be violent towards others including partners, spouses, and children, be convicted of crimes, and be sexually active at an early age.  These problems, which can also last into adulthood, can have very serious life-long ramifications even if they do not persist past the teen years.

Teens who are neither bullied themselves nor bullying others but who witness bullying behavior can also be impacted.  These teens are more likely to drink, smoke, or try drugs and to skip school.  Witnessing acts of bullying can also increase the likelihood of suffering from depression and anxiety disorders.

The bottom line for parents is that when it comes to bullying, no one gets off without damage and those scars can last a lifetime.  Talk to your child about bullying, encourage them to be open about their experiences with it, and if you suspect they are being impacted by bullying, get them help.

Bringing an End to Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and the message of this year’s awareness campaign is “The End of Bullying Begins with Me.”  This is a message that should resonate with everyone including parents, coaches, teachers, and teens.   Most of us have had to deal with a bully at some point in our lives and therefore, we all know how damaging and lasting those kinds of interactions can be.  This month you can make a difference in your family, your school, and your community by participating in activities geared towards raising awareness and empowering others to help put an end to bullying.

There are many ways you can take advantage of the national bullying campaign and do something to educate others, engage your peers, and encourage everyone to take the pledge to be part of the solution.   Here are some great ways you can get involved and help spread the word that the end of bullying begins with each of us.

English: this is my own version of what bullyi...

Help bring an end to Bullying (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying

This is a fun way to get everyone in your community involved.  Communities around the country will be participating in this unique version of a “Walk-a-thon”.  Participants help raise awareness about bullying while also raising money to support local anti-bullying programs.  Most events are scheduled for October 6th this year and you can download a kit with all the information you need to plan your own Run, Walk, Roll event on the National Bullying Prevention Website.

Wear Orange for Unity Day

On October 10th, people across the country will be wearing orange as a way to raise awareness about bullying and the importance of preventing bullying behavior in all areas of our lives.  Participate in Unity Day by donning orange or get more involved and organize some Unity Day activities at your school.  Follow Unity Day on Facebook for ideas and information.

Sign the Petition

Stand-up for what you believe in by signing the online “The End of Bullying Begins with Me” petition.  Take this a step further and encourage those around you to sign it too.  If you are participating in or hosting an anti-bullying event, provide the means for other attendees to sign the petition too.

Speak Up

Ask local churches, groups, schools, and community organizations if you can come and speak to them about bullying.  Sharing your story is one of the most powerful ways to spread awareness and help people understand the long term consequences and real-life impacts bullying behavior can cause.   If your school is having an assembly, volunteer to speak.  Talk to your school paper about writing a story or an article.  Make a video and share it through social media.

Coordinate a Community Event

Bring your community together to celebrate unity and inclusiveness and cultivate a culture where bullying is non-existent.  Whether you choose a fall festival, a street fair, a dance, or a rally, the most important thing is getting people together to raise awareness and encourage everyone to embrace the idea that the end of bullying begins with each of us.