Bullying advice and information for parents and carers
What is bullying?
Bullying is persistent verbal or physical aggression that a person feels is physically or emotionally intimidating. Bullying can happen anywhere. It can mean being attacked, mocked, humiliated, threatened, made to feel worthless or hurt in other ways. It can be face to face,by rumour, text or the internet. It is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with quickly. Parents including carers want their children to be safe, confident, happy and caring members of the community. If you think your child is being bullied, act immediately. Children who bully also need help from their parents and other organisations to understand why they bully others, and to change their behaviour. Some children become bullies because they have been bullied themselves.
What are the signs that someone may be bullying my child?
- Not wanting to go to school or leave the house on their own.
- Coming home with cuts, bruises or torn clothes.
- Possessions or dinner money being regularly ‘lost’.
- Falling out with friends.
- Aggressive behaviour towards brothers and sisters.
- Not doing well at school.
- Low self-esteem and confidence.
What can I do if I think my child is being bullied?
- Gently encourage your child to talk, even if they become upset.
- Stay calm and listen – this will reassure your child.
- Focus on facts – what, where, who and how often.
- Ask how they felt.
- Show you take it seriously.
- Make clear it is not their fault.
- Tell your child you want to help, but be guided by them in deciding what to do.
- If they won’t talk with you, suggest they speak to someone else in confidence, such as Childline.
- Discuss who you should share this information with.
Encourage your child to deal with bullying by:
- Staying around friends to avoid being alone
- Keeping away from people that intimidate them
- Ignoring comments or funny looks and walking away
- Being confident but not retaliating aggressively
- Keeping a diary of incidents – who, what, when and where
- Letting you or another adult know.
Help your child feel happier by:
- Encouraging them to focus on the good parts of their life and to value existing friends
- Helping them find leisure activities to boost their confidence and find new friends
- Letting them know you love them and want to help them and that the bullying is not their fault.
If the bullying is happening in school
- Talk to the school
- Knowing that you and the school understand the problems and are working together will help your child feel safe.
- Let the school know straight away.
- Arrange to meet a member of staff who your child suggests.
- Ask for a copy of the school’s anti-bullying policy, which will explain how they deal with bullying.
- Talk to staff calmly.
- Report exactly what happened, how many times,when, where, and who was involved. If your child has kept a diary of events, take it with you.
- Be positive and let your child know that things will get better by working with the school.
- Understand that schools cannot share confidential information about other children.
- Agree ways to improve things rather than finding someone to blame.
If, after a reasonable amount of time, you feel the bullying is not being dealt with, ask the school for its complaints procedure.
What can I do if my child is being bullied on the way to or from school?
- Listen to your child and find out what they want to happen.
- Explain that you can let the school know what is happening.
- Discuss the issue with a member of school staff.
- Find out about the school's anti-bullying policy and how such issues will be prevented and dealt with.
- Find out whether and how bystanders are encouraged to speak out.
- Help your child find others with whom to travel to or from school (protective factor).
- Help your child find a comfortable way to respond assertively (as opposed to passively or aggressively).
‘Where bullying outside school is reported to school staff, it should be investigated and acted upon.’ Reference: Preventing and Tackling Bullying: Advice for headteachers, staff and governing bodies. DfE March 2014.
A restorative approach is usually ideal, as sanctions can make matters worse. Fear of reprisals following sanctions is often what prevents young people reporting bullying.
Useful reading: "Help! I'm being bullied" by Dr Emily Lovegrove.
What can I do if I think my child is being bullied outside school?
- If your child is being bullied at a club or an organised event, talk to the organiser.
- If it’s happening in the local community, such as in the park or shopping centre, report it to the police on: 0845 045 45 45.
- Community Safety Teams based in Basingstoke and Deane, Gosport, Havant and the New Forest can help to deal with anti-social behaviour and look at the underlying issues – call 0845 6001747.
- If there’s a serious physical assault that needs immediate action, call the police on 999.
This information is also available as a PDF leaflet. 569kb
For a large print version of this brochure please telephone 01962 846398. You may also request a copy in Braille, on audio cassette, on disc, and in other languages.
Documents to download
For further information, advice or support in Hampshire
0300 555 1384
- Parent Partnership Service - for children with special educational needs
- Advice on making a complaint
- Hampshire Family Information Directory
- YouthTube - for Young People in Hampshire
- Community Safety Teams
Family Lives - a network of volunteers working closely with local communities