Daycare Bullying: How it Happens and What it Could Mean for Your Child

Daycares must work to prevent bullying.You thought you had more time before you had to worry about this. Thinking ahead, you worried about bullying on the elementary school playground, on the middle school bus, and in the high school locker room. You didn’t worry about bullying in the daycare that your toddler or preschooler attends. 

You chose your child’s daycare carefully, and you expected it to be a safe place where children learned how to interact with each other. Unfortunately, daycares don’t always prevent bullying and early childhood bullying can be just as devastating as bullying that occurs among older children.

Toddler and Preschool Bullying

As the parent of a toddler, you know that toddlers can’t always be predictable. They learn through their behavior, and that behavior often needs to be corrected. If a child takes a toy from another child, hits another child, or says a mean thing about another child once, they are not bullying the other child.

Instead, the American Psychological Association defines bullying as “a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions.”

Even as toddlers, children may bully other children by intentionally and repeatedly:

  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Threatening physical harm
  • Leaving a child out of a group
  • Refusing to play with a child
  • Telling other kids not to be friends with a child
  • Telling secrets or spreading rumors
  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Spitting
  • Pinching
  • Tripping
  • Pushing
  • Taking or breaking a child’s belongings or the toys the child is playing with

Daycare bullying can happen on the playground, in the classroom, during mealtime, or during transition times.

Signs Your Young Child Is Being Bullied at Daycare

Your child may not know the word bullying. Instead, your child may communicate that he is being bullied in other ways, such as:

  • Repeatedly saying one child was mean to him
  • A dislike of or refusal to go to daycare
  • Complaining of headaches or stomachaches before going to daycare
  • Referring to himself in negative terms you’ve never used at home
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Becoming fearful or clingy to you
  • Having unexplained bruises, scrapes, or cuts
  • Changes in eating or sleeping that are not explained by medical conditions
  • Regression in behavior, such as reverting to thumb sucking after outgrowing the habit or having bathroom accidents after being toilet trained

If you notice these potential signs of bullying, it is important to determine the cause before your child experiences any further injury.

Consequences of Early Childhood Bullying

Daycare bullying may impact your child now and in the future. For example, your child could experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Changes in his self-esteem
  • Difficulty forming or keeping friendships
  • Behavior changes

As your child gets older, early childhood bullying can lead to eating disorders, alcohol or drug abuse, and, sometimes, suicide.

The Daycare May Be Legally Responsible for Your Child’s Bullying Injuries

You already believe the daycare provider is morally responsible for your child’s injuries. If daycare staff had supervised the children more closely or acted quickly when a problem arose, then your child may not have been hurt.

But is the daycare legally responsible for what happened? Daycares should recognize that bullying may occur. They should have strategies in place to prevent it from happening and to promptly and effectively address bullying that does happen. When daycares fail to do that, they may be legally responsible for any injuries that result.

Bullying behavior may be subtle or quickly dismissed as a child’s play by daycare providers. You deserve to know what really happened to your child, and our Texas daycare injury lawyers may be able to help you get that information during a thorough investigation. We will also fight for your child’s full compensation for injuries that never should have happened.

To learn more, please call us today for an initial consultation. Additionally, we invite you to learn more about protecting your child by downloading our free resources. If you are looking for a new daycare provider, please read, 11 Tips to Help Parents Choose a Safe Daycare, and if your child has been hurt, please read, A Five-Step Guide for Parents Dealing With a Daycare Injury.