Manifestations of bullying

A child who is bullied feels bad and defenceless. It is common for the child not to want to tell about what happens to avoid any consequences. Bullying often takes place where no one sees it. It is very important that everyone recognises the symptoms of bullying.

Bullying is manifested in many ways, it can be:

  • Physical. Beating, kicking, pushing.
  • Verbal. Name-calling, humiliating comments, repeated teasing.
  • Written. Negative messages on the internet or phone, scribbling, letters.
  • Indirectly. Backbiting, ostracizing, exclusion from a group of friends.
  • Material. Things stolen or damaged.
  • Mental. Intimidation to do something against one’s will.
Against bullying. English subtitles auto-generated

Signs of bullying

Different behaviour and wellbeing of a child may be signs of it being bullied. The list here below is not exhaustive.


  • Mood changes.
  • Repeated crying and sensitivity.
  • Sleep disturbances or nightmares.
  • Different eating habits, lack of appetite or overeating.
  • Little confidence, fear and anxiety.
  • Sadness, signs of depression or suicidal thoughts.


  • Physical complaints, for example, headache or stomachache.
  • Anxiety symptoms, for example, biting of fingernails, stuttering or various nervous habits.
  • Scratches or bruises that the child cannot explain.
  • Torn clothes or damaged properties.


  • The child seems isolated and lonely.
  • The child doesn’t go for or receive visits.
  • The child doesn’t want to participate in social activities and has few or no friends.


  • Unexplained temper tantrums or crying spells.
  • The child refuses to say what is wrong.
  • Aggression and difficult behaviour.

At school

  • The child fears going alone to and from school or asks for an escort or takes a different route.
  • The child leaves for school earlier or later than usual.
  • The child arrives late or starts playing hooky.
  • The child avoids certain situations at school, for example, physical exercise and swimming.
  • The child stops taking care of the studies, grades decline, difficulty with focusing.
  • The child shuts itself off from schoolmates.
  • The child avoids going out during recess.

In case of suspicion of bullying

It is the duty of schools to react to bullying, and many primary schools have set up action plans and preventive measures.

If you notice any of these symptoms or anything other indications of a child feeling bad, it is important to check the matter and notify respective parties. It can be parents, teachers, trainers, school administrators or other school staff. If you feel that you are not receiving sufficient assistance at the school, you can contact Fagráð eineltismála (professional board of bullying affairs) for primary- and secondary schools through email Serious bullying must be reported to child protection services through 112.

The Ombudsman for Children

The Ombudsman for Children is a public spokesperson for children and endeavours to have children’s rights, needs and interests taken into full consideration.

Advisory board on bullying in primary and upper secondary schools

If you are in primary or upper secondary school and your bullying case is not resolved, you can refer it to the advisory board on bullying.

Communication counsellor

A communication counsellor is here to listen, support, and assist you in all cases related to inappropriate behaviour or abuse within organized sports or youth activities.

Risky behaviour

A child’s risky behaviour is when a child behaves in a way that causes it harm or is likely to harm its health or development. For example drug use, self-harm, violence against others and crime.

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