When your child is being bullied, it may be difficult to know how to support your child.
Bullying can happen in person or online. It involves:
Types of bullying include:
Other types of bullying may include racism, sexism, homophobia, sizeism, or picking on someone due to religious beliefs or disability.
People often bully to feel like they have control and power. This can be because they feel powerless in another part of their life. They might be struggling with something, or may have been bullied themselves. This doesn’t make it OK to bully, but both the bully and the person who is being bullied will need some support.
A child may become involved in bullying without thinking about the consequences. For example, by liking an abusive comment made by one person to another, or following a hate site.
Signs that your child might be being bullied include:
Your child might not show all these signs at the same time, and these won’t always be signs that they are getting bullied.
If you suspect bullying, talk to your child. Ask them how you can support them.
If they’re reluctant to talk, try to find ways to speak about bullying in a more general way. For example, you might watch a situation on a TV show and ask your child what they think the person should have done or if they’ve ever seen anything similar. You could also speak about experiences that you or another family member had at that age.
If your child doesn’t want to talk at all but you’re still worried, see if there is someone else who might be able to support. This could be a counsellor, teacher, youth leader or another family member.
It’s not always possible to avoid or stay away from bullies. But you can help your child prepare by creating a safety plan with them. Talk to them about where and when the incidents are most likely to happen. Look at ways they may be able to keep themselves safer. These include:
Help them to understand where they should go, or who to talk to should they feel threatened. You can share this plan with the school and ask them to find extra solutions.
If bullying is happening online, show your child how to block contacts and report anything malicious or triggering to the platform or app. Always alert the school to online bullying.
Read our article on more ways you can help your child stay safe online.
Discuss ways to tell the bully to stop. Your child should only do this if they feel comfortable. If speaking up seems hard, they should walk away and stay safe.
Some schools have protocols they use, such as holding up their hand and saying, “Stop. I don’t like this.” Talk to the school about the methods they use and ask for any resources that may be helpful to share with your child.
See if your child can keep a diary or a record of the bullying. Having a record can make it easier for others to understand what’s happening. It helps collect the evidence they might need to make it stop. It can be useful to include details such as:
Be aware of the anti-bullying and behaviour policies at your child’s school. These may be available on your school’s website. If they’re not, ask the school office to email you a copy or print one off and give it to you.
You can also check the government website on how schools should deal with bullying.
If you reported something to your child’s school, ask for the outcome of the school’s investigation. Request copies of incident reports. The school may not be able to provide names or details of consequences, but it’s good to keep a record of the outcome.
Make sure your child knows they can ask for help. It’s important they tell someone they trust what’s happening. This is not grassing or telling tales. Help them identify who they can go to.
If bullying is happening at school or on the way to or from school, encourage your child to report every incident. If they feel unable to do this, alert the school as soon as they’ve told you. Tell your child you are planning to do this and let them know that it will help the school to investigate.
You can keep your child off school if you have concerns for your child’s mental or physical wellbeing, while you work with the school towards finding a solution. More support is available from the Anti-Bullying Alliance or the NSPCC. Kidscape also runs free workshops for young people affected by bullying.
Your child can get support online from: