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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Dealing with bullying

Bullying is unacceptable. If your child is being bullied at school, the school should have policies and procedures in place to support you. There are also organisations which can help and offer further information and advice if you need it.

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Identifying bullying

Bullying can be defined as deliberately hurtful behaviour that is repeated over a period of time. This can include:

  • teasing, abusive remarks and name calling
  • threats and physical violence
  • damage to property
  • leaving pupils out of social activities deliberately
  • spreading rumours
  • upsetting mobile phone or email messages (sometimes called cyberbullying)

If your child is being bullied

Your child may not directly tell you that they are being bullied but may display other symptoms like headaches, irritability and anxiety, and may not want to go to school. If your child is behaving like this or out of character and you suspect they are being bullied, try talking to them about:

  • their progress with school work
  • friends at school
  • what they do at lunchtimes and breaks
  • any problems or difficulties they are facing

Finding out your child is being bullied can be very upsetting, but if this happens try to talk calmly to your child about what is happening and:

  • make a note of what they say: who was involved, where, when and how often?
  • reassure your child that they have done the right thing by telling you
  • tell your child to report any further incidents to a teacher straightaway
  • talk to your child's teacher about the bullying


Two thirds of all bullying is verbal, and increasingly this happens in un-moderated chat rooms or by instant messaging, or via text messages on mobile phones. Bullying can be subtle but most of the time, if your child is being bullied, they know who is doing it to them.

What you can do:

  • get them to show you any messages they've received or to tell you immediately if anything new happens
  • tell them never to respond to an internet bully in a chat room, and never respond to abusive text messages
  • make sure they stick to moderated chat rooms
  • tell them that bullying usually stops once they tell other people about it
  • if bullying or abuse starts in a chat room, encourage your children to leave immediately and tell you - you can then contact the moderator or the site manager/editor
  • tell them never to give out personal contact details online or put photographs of themselves up on websites

Talking to teachers about bullying

When you talk to your child's teacher, remember they may have no idea your child is being bullied. Try to stay calm and:

  • give specific details of what your child says has happened: give names, dates and places
  • make a note of what action the school will take
  • ask if there is anything you can do to help
  • stay in touch with the school - let them know if the problem continues or if the situation improves
  • find out what the anti-bullying policy is for the school (every school should have one), so you know what to expect

If you have spoken to your child's teachers and school and the bullying doesn't stop, or you are still not happy with the way the school is dealing with it, the following organisations offer support and information:

  • Parentline Plus helpline: 0808 800 2222 (Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 9.00 pm, Saturday 9.30 am to 5.00 pm, Sunday 10.00 am to 3.00 pm)
  • Kidscape helpline for parents: 08451 205204 (10.00 am to 4.00 pm)
  • Anti Bullying Campaign advice line for parents and children: 020 7378 1446 (9.30 am to 5.00 pm)
  • Advisory Centre for Education (advice for parents and children on all school matters): 0808 800 5793
  • Children's Legal Centre (free legal advice on all aspects of the law affecting children and young people): 0845 120 2948

If your child is bullying others

If your child is bullying, they could be copying the behaviour of other people in the family; or perhaps they haven't learned better ways of mixing with their friends. Friends may be encouraging bullying, or your child may be going through a difficult time and acting out aggressive feelings.

To stop your child bullying:

  • explain to your child that what they are doing is unacceptable and making other children unhappy
  • discourage other members of your family from using aggression or force to get what they want
  • show your child how they can join in without bullying
  • see your child's teacher to talk about how you can work together to stop your child bullying
  • check regularly with your child about how things are going at school
  • give your child lots of praise when they are co-operative and kind to other people

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