Bullying is one of the biggest concerns for parents, according to Family Lives, a support organisation for parents that runs a free telephone helpline on 0808 800 2222.
If you find out or suspect that your child is being bullied, there are things you can do to resolve the problem. And you don’t have to find all the answers on your own. There are a number of organisations, including Family Lives, that can give you help and advice (see Who can help with bullying? below).
How to help your child if they are being bullied
If a child tells you they’re being bullied, the first thing to do is listen. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) advises parents and carers to let children tell their story in their own words, and to not dismiss their experience as part of ‘growing up’.
The NSPCC advises you to suggest to your child that they keep a diary of bullying incidents. It will help to have concrete facts to show the school.
The next step is to talk to the school (see below).
How do you know if your child is being bullied?
Sometimes children don’t talk to their parents or carers because they don’t want to upset them, or they think it will make the problem worse.
However, if you suspect that your child is being bullied, there are signs to look out for, according to the NSPCC. These include:
- Coming home with damaged or missing clothes, without money they should have, or with scratches and bruises.
- Having trouble with homework for no apparent reason.
- Using a different route between home and school.
- Feeling irritable, easily upset or particularly emotional.
Talking to the school about bullying
To stop the bullying, it's essential for you or your child, or both of you, to talk to the school.
Think about who would be the best person to approach first. Discuss this with your child because there may be a particular teacher your child feels more at ease with.
It's worth asking about any school schemes to tackle bullying, such as peer mentoring, where certain children are trained to listen and help with problems. You could ask to see the school’s anti-bullying policy, which every school has to have by law. This will enable you to see how the school plans to prevent and tackle bullying.
Who can help with bullying?
All the organisations listed below provide support and information to parents.
Family Lives is a charity that runs a free and confidential 24-hour helpline for parents. Call 0808 800 2222 to speak about any parenting issue, including bullying.
The Bullying UK website, which is part of Family Lives, has a dedicated area for parents.
Kidscape is an anti-bullying charity that runs a telephone advice line for parents and carers (0845 120 5204), it also runs assertiveness training courses for young people who've been bullied. There's extensive information for parents and carers on its website.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has information for parents on what to look out for and what to do if you think a child is being bullied.
Contact a Family
Contact a Family provides advice, information and support to the parents of all disabled children throughout the UK. It runs a free helpline (0808 808 3555).