Dealing with bullying
Bullying at school should not be dismissed as just a 'normal part of growing up'. It can have long-term repercussions and can be linked to emotional problems in adulthood.
NSPCC figures suggest nearly half of school age children (46%) have been bullied at some point in their lives. It can undermine confidence, cause sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, fear and anxiety. In severe cases it can lead to depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
Key signs of bullying
Parents can feel powerless if their child is having problems at school, but there are signs to look out for.
The key sign is a change in behaviour and body language. This can include nervousness, tearfulness, anger, nightmares, poor sleep, a change in eating habits, and complaining of tummy aches or headaches.
Also look out for unexplained injuries, lost or broken possessions, a loss of friends, and a lack of interest in school.
What you can do about bullying
Sit your child down and try to establish the reasons for their behaviour. It's unusual for a child who is being bullied to lie but they do fear they won't be believed.
Listen to them and allow them to tell their story. Do not make assumptions or interrupt.
Believe them. Do not dismiss their experience as just part of 'growing up'.
Reassure your child. Children can be bullied for all sorts of reasons, or for no reason at all. Let them know the bullying is not their fault and that now you know about it the problem can be resolved.
Don't get angry in front of your child and threaten to confront the bully or the bully's parents. This can frighten your child and make the situation worse.
However, don't agree with your child if they plead with you to do nothing. Reassure them that by acting in a sensible and measured way you can help them resolve the situation.
Contact your child’s teacher and share your concerns. Ask if they can monitor the situation.
Keep a bullying diary
If the problem resolves itself quickly, make a note of the date, cause, and who was involved, for future reference, just in case there are problems at a later time.
If your child continues to be bullied try to establish the following:
- Does it always happen with the same child?
- Does it happen regularly in a particular lesson or place at any particular time of the day?
- Keep a log of all the incidents to establish patterns of behaviour. The charity Kidscape offers advice on how to do this.
By law all schools should have an anti-bullying policy in place.
Match your child’s problem against the policy. If the school operates a 'no blame' policy, you may want to consider changing your child’s school.