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Bullying, whether physical or emotional, is a terrible ordeal for any child and difficult for parents to deal with. When you're the only one parent dealing with it, it's even harder.

It is really important for you to stay calm and rational and to talk to your child as much as you possibly can and promise them your support (even if at first you are not sure exactly what to do). It is important for you to talk to someone too, preferably your child’s other parent if you have a good relationship with them, or a friend or family member.

There are sometimes serious consequences of either being bullied or being a bully and it is recommended that you look at this information even if your family isn’t experiencing these difficulties right now and talk to your child about how to deal with them if they arise. You could save your child a great deal of distress if they encounter bullying in the future, either directly, or if they have friends who are bullying or being bullied.

What is bullying?

  • Name calling
  • Posting embarassing pictures and videos of people online
  • Sharing information that was meant to be kept secret
  • Purposefully getting another person into trouble
  • Physical attacks, hitting, pushing, shoving
  • Making cruel comments online.
  • Taking money or belongings from someone
  • Making threats/intimidating behaviour
  • Damaging belongings
  • Spreading rumours
  • Taking friends away 
  • Silence, purposeful ignoring
  • Insulting or malicious emails (cyberbullying)
  • Silent or abusive phone calls, sending offensive texts (abusive phone calls/texts)

What to look out for

  • Your child avoiding school or their schoolwork suffering
  • Your child not wanting to leave the house
  • Torn clothes, damaged possessions
  • Possessions going missing
  • No contact with previously good friends
  • Not sleeping, anxiety
  • Becoming quiet, withdrawn, aggressive, moody

Bullying at school

If you think that your child is being bullied at school you need to talk to staff at the school. You are likely to feel angry and upset and this is normal, however it is best not to charge into school ‘all guns blazing’. It won’t help for you to be seen as aggressive when you are actually going in to complain about aggression towards your child!

Make an appointment with someone that you have a good relationship with: a teacher, form tutor, deputy or head perhaps. All state schools have to have a bullying policy by law; it may be useful to ask for a copy of this from reception before your meeting. Make a list of your concerns so that you can be sure you've not forgotten anything, and make it clear that you want to work with the school to sort out this problem.

Is your child a bully?

What a horrible thought. It will be incredibly hard to believe and your child may well completely deny it, or may not understand how much hurt their actions cause. If the school has contacted you, again, you need to stay calm, arrange a meeting and agree to work with the school. You will need to open channels of communication with your child and talk until you get to the bottom of the issue. This may mean some special time for you and your child; a walk, a trip out, shopping, a meal, anything that puts you together, preferably in a relaxed atmosphere that makes it easy to chat. You will also need a copy of the school’s bullying policy and you may want to look through this with your child. Your child needs to know that if they have stolen, assaulted someone or been involved in malicious emails or phone calls/texts then the police may become involved.

Useful Links

BullyingUK - Help and advice for victims of bullying, their parents and school

The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) is a national charity that provides advice and information to parents and carers on a wide range of school based issues including exclusion, admissions, special education needs, bullying and attendance.

If your child wants to talk to someone else in confidence about how being bullied is affecting them, they could call Childline – 0800 1111

The Anti-Bullying Handbook by Keith Sullivan, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19 558388-4 £9.99. Your local library should have a copy.

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