“It happens most days, they call her fat and other names. They are in the same class and are always laughing at her. Sometimes she won’t go to school….”
The real story
Bullying is a frightening experience. It can isolate and damage a young person’s self-confidence. Some ongoing bullying can have negative long-term effects on children, leading to depression and even suicidal thoughts and actions.
School days are a time when the influence of other children is very important and fitting in is seen as essential. If children are thought of as different for any reason, they can be picked on and bullied. It is crucial to be alert to the possibility of bullying and make sure you know the tell-tale signs.
You may think that your child is unlikely to be bullied but the reality is that bullying can happen at any time and to any child. Bullies who continually harm other children need support and help as well. They may have experienced difficulties of their own at home, which may have led to their actions. Reporting concerns may help them to get help as well.
Bullying can happen anywhere but most commonly it happens in school. It can take many forms, for example: name calling; spreading false rumours or gossip; hitting, pinching, biting, pushing and shoving; taking things away from your child; damaging their belongings; taking their friends away from them; posting insulting messages on social networking sites; sending offensive texts or e-mails; threats and intimidation; making silent or abusive phonecalls.
If your child tells you about a friend or any other child who is being bullied – listen carefully and take this seriously. That child may not be able to say for themselves what is happening.
Today all schools are required to have an Anti-Bullying Policy. However, school action alone cannot guarantee success. It is important that parents and schools work together in partnership to secure support and protection for the child for both the present and the future. It is essential that parents make contact with their child’s school as soon as they become aware of any problems.
To learn more about bullying and to find out how to get the help and support you need click here to visit the Anti Bullying pages.
Finding out that your child is being bullied is a stressful and distressing experience. It’s natural for a parent to feel anger, confusion and guilt.
Some children are good at hiding their feelings. However a range of signs may indicate if your child is being bullied including; coming home with cuts and bruises; torn clothes; asking for stolen possessions to be replaced; ‘losing’ dinner money; not wanting to do PE lessons; pretending they are ill; falling out with previously good friends; being moody and bad tempered; wanting to avoid leaving the house; aggression with brothers and sisters; doing less well at schoolwork; unable to sleep; being quiet and withdrawn or anxious.
Take time to talk to your child and gather facts. Your child may choose to keep all of the text messages or a diary as evidence as what is happening. The worst thing to do is to over-react and storm into school demanding action. Make an appointment to seek their support and action. If bullying happens to and from school and children have their uniform on you can take up a complaint with the school.
If bullying is happening outside school, consider contacting the family of the child who is bullying and try to find a way to work together to sort it out. Or if this is violent you can contact the police.
Encourage your child to act confidently to send out the message they are not afraid.
What to say
‘Bullying UK’ suggests if you are unsure if your child is being bullied you could ask the following questions:
- - What did they do at lunchtime today?
- - Is there anyone they’d like to invite home?
- - Is there any lesson at school they don’t like and why?
- - Is there anyone at school they don’t like and why?
- - Are they looking forward to going to school tomorrow?
Get involved; make time to talk to your child each day about their day. Teach your child to respect others from a young age. Teach your child that prejudice and bullying is unacceptable.
Cyber bullying – consider creating a family email address. Make use of the available monitoring and filtering software. These can help block inappropriate material. Keep the computer in a family room, so you can always see what is on screen. Make sure your child is aware of the dangers of chat rooms. Discuss which websites your child is visiting and take a look for yourself.
- www.ceop.gov.uk (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre)
- www.gotateenager.org.uk Freephone 0808 800 2222
- www.parentlineplus.org.uk Freephone 0808 800 2222
- There are many forms of bullying including, physical, sexual, neglect, emotional and abuse. Bullying can happen to any child at any age
- There are many reasons someone may be bullied. It may be racially motivated (skin colour, religion, ethnic origin or cultural background). It may be the child has a disability or is a little bit ‘different’
- It’s becoming more common that bullying takes place on social network sites, e-mail and text.
- Children have the right not to be hurt and bullying behaviour is unacceptable
- Try and encourage an open relationship where your child can talk to you about some difficult issues they may face in life.
- Act immediately if you think your child is being bullied
- Children need ways to protect themselves and seek help.
To visit the Bullying section for 11-15 year olds click here
To visit the Bullying section for 16-24 year olds click here