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Preventing and tackling bullying

Guidance for parents on preventing and tackling bullying, and how to report bullying at school.

What to do if your child is being bullied

Bullying is deliberately hurtful behaviour. It can include name calling and teasing, threats and extortion, physical violence, social exclusion and spreading malicious rumours.

You should report bullying to your school in the first place – or someone you trust if it happens outside school, for example in a club or online.

Racist bullying

Nobody has the right to call your child names or to treat them badly because of their colour, race or religion. Racist bullying is an offence. Schools must record all incidents of racist bullying. To find out how to deal with racist bullying visit what to do about racist bullying on Bullying UK.

Homophobic bullying

Homophobic bullying is when people behave or speak in a way which makes someone feel bullied because of their actual or perceived sexuality. For advice and tips on dealing with LGBTQ bullying visit homophobic bullying on Bullying UK.

Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying is any form of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones and tablets.  To find out about cyber bullying and how to deal with it visit Cyber bullying advice on Bullying UK.

Other examples of bullying

  • Physical aggression – hitting, kicking, tripping up, spitting, taking or damaging property, use of threats or force in any way, intimidation or demands for money or goods
  • Verbal – name calling, insulting, teasing, jokes, mockery, taunting, gossip, secrets, threat or reference to upsetting events
  • Non verbal – staring, body language, gestures or posturing
  • Indirect – excluding, ostracising, rumours and stories, emails, chat rooms, messaging, phones, notes, texts, rude gestures or faces
  • Sexual – touching repeated exhibition, voyeurism, sexual propositioning, or verbal personal comment
  • Disability intolerance – name calling, exclusion, taking over for a person, mimicking, physical overpowering, or laughing at difficulty

If you think your child is being bullied then you may spot some of the following signs:

  • Sleep or appetite problems
  • Behaviour changes, for example tantrums or thumb sucking
  • Bed wetting or soiling
  • Withdrawn, moody, clingy, aggressive, uncooperative, or non communicative
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Aches, pains, cuts, bruises without adequate explanation
  • Complaints about illness especially in the morning
  • Stealing money or small things
  • Requesting money for no acceptable reason
  • Missing the school bus on purpose or leaving late for school
  • Getting detention
  • Dropping activities
  • Best friends no longer calling
  • Seeming upset or moody when using computer chat rooms
  • Demanding designer clothes or the latest mobile
  • Asking to change school
  • Clothes ripped, dirty or missing
  • Arriving home hungry
  • School work deteriorating

It is important to remember that there could be a number of reasons for this behaviour. So you need to ask yourself:

  • Could there be anything else bothering your child?
  • Are there any changes in your family life such as a new baby, divorce or separation?

Any discussion with your child needs to be handled sensitively so that you can get a clear picture of what is happening.

If your child is being bullied, you need to contact your child’s school as soon as possible to arrange an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher or form tutor

Always try to be calm. The school will be keen to resolve the problem, but they may not be aware of the problem. In some cases, the causes may be very complicated

Be as clear as possible about what your child says has happened – give dates, places and names of others involved.

Ask if there is anything you can do to help your child or the school.

Ask to see the school’s anti-bullying procedure.

Make a note of what action the school intends to take.

Stay in touch with the school and let them know if the problem continues or if things improve.

Part of this process may involve the fact that your own child may need to change aspects of their behaviour. This is nothing to worry about. Schools need to ensure that the plans they put in place help your child to feel safe, and your child will have to take some responsibility for ensuring that this happens.

All schools are required to have anti bullying procedures. If you have any concerns about bullying you should contact the anti-bullying co-ordinator at the school for assistance. Once the school is aware of a problem it is very likely that they will be able to deal with it effectively.

If you are still worried, you may wish to make an appointment to discuss your concerns with the headteacher.

If you feel that the school has not responded appropriately to your concerns, you may need to make a formal complaint to the school. You can do this by using the school’s complaints procedure.

For further information visit reporting bullying at school on Gov.UK 

If you feel the school hasn’t dealt with your concerns and wish to make a complaint visit complain about a school on Gov.UK

Some children may be involved in bullying other children at one time or another. In fact, some children who are bullied (either at school or elsewhere) also bully other children. Parents and carers are often not aware that their child is involved in bullying others.

Don’t panic. The school will want to work with you in a supportive way to change your child’s behaviour.

Don’t think your child is dreadful. They are exhibiting some anti-social behaviour at the moment, but this can be corrected if everyone works together.

Be prepared to listen to the school and accept their advice.

How to stop your child from bullying other children

  • Talk to your child and explain that what they are doing is not acceptable and is making other children very unhappy.
  • Discourage other members of your family from ever using bullying behaviour or from being aggressive to get what they want.
  • Show your child how they can join in with other children without bullying.
  • Make an appointment to see your child’s class teacher or form tutor to explain how you can work together to stop your child from bullying other children.

It is very important to work closely with the school. Regularly ask your child how things are at school. Give your child lots of praise and encouragement when he or she is co-operative or kind to other people.

The Anti Bullying Alliance has some top tips for preventing bullying.