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Quiz: Is Your Kid Being Bullied?

Mean boys and girls are attacking, antagonizing and intimidating their peers more than ever before. Answer the following questions to determine whether your kid is at risk.

By Megan Finnegan

1. Your son just logged off Facebook or another social networking site. He seems:

a) Despondent and distant.
b) A little hyperactive.
c) Like his usual self.

2. On Thursday night your daughter spent hours making T-shirts for the next day's pep rally and was talking about it nonstop. When you pick her up on Friday afternoon, she:

a) Isn't wearing her T-shirt and looks upset.
b) Says it was just okay.
c) Can't wait to recount every detail of the event.

3. You break down and buy your kid the latest tech gadget he's been begging for. After a week:

a) He sometimes forgets it in his locker at school.
b) It has mysteriously disappeared (just like his last MP3 player and the hockey jersey you bought him for his birthday).
c) It's essentially glued to his hand.

4. In the past few months, your generally healthy kid:

a) Missed a day or two of school due to the flu or a bad cold.
b) Complained of the occasional headache or stomachache.
c) Came home from school with bruises or cuts he says he doesn't remember getting.

5. On a typical Sunday night, your kid prepares for the week of school ahead by:

a) Obsessively planning his walking routes between classes.
b) Worrying about an upcoming test.
c) Picking out an outfit for Monday morning.

6. One of your tween's classmates is having his birthday party at a local park. When you ask if he's excited about it, he:

a) Tells you he's a little nervous about having to play softball because he's not very good at it.
b) Gives an enthusiastic "yes" and then gets back to texting his friends about it.
c) Says he'd rather hang out with his parents and doesn't want to go to a "stupid party" anyway.

7. Your kid has been on her cell phone for the past hour, texting back and forth with friends. Afterward, she:

a) Stuffs her phone in her pocket, slouches in her seat, and snaps at anyone who tries to talk to her.
b) Sighs and complains about how one friend is being obnoxious lately.
c) Says the girls are planning to go to the mall and asks if she can meet them.

8. When you tried to talk to your kid about bullying, she:

a) Brushed you off.
b) Broke down in tears and said she feels picked on in school.
c) Recounted the time she saw someone being bullied and how it bothered her enough to tell her guidance counselor.

9. At a parent-teacher conference, your son's algebra teacher says:

a) He's doing well in the class and should be fine in pre-calculus next year.
b) He's struggled recently with a few quizzes and might need a tutor.
c) Your son repeatedly misses the class, and when he's there, he seems distracted and nervous.

Results

Give yourself the following points for each response and then see your results below.

Question 1

a = 2
b = 1
c = 0

Question 2

a = 2
b = 1
c = 0

Question 3

a = 1
b = 2
c = 0

Question 4

a = 0
b = 1
c = 2

Question 5

a = 2
b = 1
c = 0

Question 6

a = 1
b = 0
c = 2

Question 7

a = 2
b = 1
c = 0

Question 8

a = 1
b = 2
c = 0

Question 9

a = 0
b = 1
c = 2

0 to 4 points

Most likely not a victim of bullying. Your kid is probably not being bullied. But since the dynamic between adolescents changes so frequently, it's important to keep an open dialogue by talking to him about how to recognize signs of abuse.

5 to 10 points

May be the victim of bullying. While it's possible your kid may be dealing with other problems at school—a particularly difficult class or typical arguments among friends—she could be the target of bullying. Ask specific questions about her school day and other activities, and monitor her demeanor and actions closely.

11 or more points

Probably being bullied. Time to take action. There is a good chance your child is being bullied. Talk to her about your concerns and let her know that it's okay to feel scared or embarrassed. Start recording the bullying incidents and find an adult—a teacher, counselor, or coach—for your kid to check in with on a regular basis when you're not around. Keep the lines of communication open between your child and the school by alerting the principal if the behavior escalates. If your child seems at risk of physical harm, go to the police.

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