As parents we all want our children to enjoy their school days without fear of bullying.
There is so much talk of bullying in the news, and many of us will have experienced bullying ourselves as children, or know children that have gone through or are going through a bullying situation.
The good news is that there is help available and there are practical steps you can take to keep your child safe.
What to do if you think your child is being bullied
First and foremost try not to be overly anxious
Many children go through bullying situations and with the right support they will bounce back. Relationships can be very volatile in the school years, and children like adults can be cruel. Let your child know that if you are always there for them, and together you will sort it out.
Make sure your child knows their worth and the worth of others
Always remind your child that they are precious, that they are worthy of respect and kindness, and that any difference is their unique strength. It is equally important to model respectful and kind relationships as a parent, and to encourage your child to look out for others who may be lonely and sad.
If your child is being bullied, stay calm
They may be very reluctant to tell anyone at first so keep the lines of communication open, gently reminding them they can always share anything that may be worrying them. Let them know that you are there for them, but understand that sometimes they may need to get advice from another adult they trust and that is okay too. If they do tell you they are being bullied, let them know that it is not their fault, there is a way through, and that together you will sort it out.
Keep a diary
Keeping a log of events is a good way of establishing what is happening and important for any meetings with the school.
Talk to the school
Schools have a legal duty to keep your child safe from bullying. If the bullying is happening in school, or involves children from your child’s school then the sooner they are informed, the sooner they can help. You may feel angry and hurt about what has happened to your child but again it is important to stay calm, and remember that the main goal is always to work together to stop the bullying behaviour. The more you show willing to work with the school the better.
If the bullying is online, but involves children from the school then still tell the school. Headteachers have powers to discipline pupils for bullying behaviour outside of school hours and are expected to take cyberbullying seriously. You may also want to report bullying and harassing behaviour to the social media provider (for more advice visit Internet Matters or Childnet International). Also see our specific section on cyberbullying.
What do I do if it’s not working?
If the school is not taking action, or you feel it’s ineffective, then take further action. Bullying by law is a safeguarding issue and so you can contact the local children’s services team for advice.
You may also want to take your child to the GP for medical advice, and explore options for additional support in your area such as counselling services. There are also a number of charities that can offer advice and support such as Kidscape, Family Lives, Contact a Family (for parents and carers of disabled children) and Young Minds.
It is equally important to model respectful and kind relationships as a parent, and to encourage your child to look out for others who may be lonely and sad