What to do if your child is being bullied at school

This information applies to England and Wales.

Bullying can be a difficult subject. It can be hard for your child to open up to parents or a teacher. If you think your child is being bullied, you could try asking them about any problems at school or if anyone is being mean to them.

If your child does not want to open up to you about bullying, try encouraging them to talk to someone they feel comfortable with and who can help. This might be another family member or a favourite teacher at school.

Talking to your child about bullying

When you talk to your child about bullying, give them the chance to share their experience and feelings. Tell them that you believe them, it’s not their fault and you love them.

You might rightly feel angry, but try to stay as calm as possible. If your child sees your anger, they might think it’s their fault. It’s also important to encourage your child not to retaliate.

Advice for parents (Family Lives)

Advice for parents and carers (Anti-Bullying Alliance)

Help build confidence

You can also work with your child to help build their confidence. Highlight positive things they can share with other people.

Teach your child how to:

  • talk to other people
  • solve problems
  • make decisions
  • read other people’s body language

These skills can help your child become more confident, independent and involved at school. It could also help to talk about how difference can be positive.

Storybooks featuring disabled children

Life skills to help your disabled child become independent

Warning Supporting your mental health

If bullying affects you or your child’s mental health, ask for support when you can.

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing is important. Everyone manages their mental health differently.

There are many things you can try.

Managing your mental health

How to deal with your child being bullied

Ask your child’s teachers about the school's policy on bullying or look on the school's website.

It’s important to make sure the school works with your child to sort the problem in a way that helps them.

If you’re in England, ask to meet the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) who may have a better understanding of your child’s needs.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support

If you’re in Wales, ask to meet the Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator (ALNCo).

Additional Learning Needs (SNAP Cymru)

If they are able to, your child should be included in discussions as much as possible. Ask them what they would like to happen so that the bullying will stop. This could be changing classes or being included in activities more.

If the school does not resolve the problem or make any changes to help your child, you can make a complaint.

Bullying at school (Family Lives)

Bullying at school (Mencap)

Bullying outside of school

Schools can get involved if other students are bullying your child outside school. The school must investigate and act on any report of bullying, including online.

What is cyberbullying? (Family Lives)

Work with the school to be more inclusive

Sometimes talking to the school about how to help your child to be included and supported in classes and groups can be helpful. If the school is failing to help your child get involved or is not making reasonable adjustments, this could contribute to the bullying culture.

You could try looking at the barriers together with the school to help them become more inclusive and welcoming of diversity. This could involve setting up regular meetings with the school Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator.

Making a complaint

As you try to resolve the bullying with the school, it can help to keep a record of incidents, meetings and conversations. Following up with an email after every conversation or meeting can help with this. Keeping a record can be useful if the school is not doing what they need to and you need to take it further.

If the school does not take the bullying seriously or fails to act, you should go through the school’s complaint process.

Bullying and the law

Your child has a legal right to be protected against discrimination or abuse.

Under the Equality Act 2010 (GOV.UK), schools must make sure pupils with ‘protected characteristics’, such as disability, do not face discrimination.

You may also be able to refer to the Human Rights Act to support your complaint against the school.

Bullying at school: the law (GOV.UK)

Human Rights Act (Citizens Advice)

Taking your complaint further

If you are still unhappy with the school’s response, you can complain in writing to the school’s governors or academy trustees.

If this does not help, you can complain to the Department for Education.

Complaining about a school (GOV.UK)

Making a complaint (Anti-Bullying Alliance)

Download the template complaint letters and step-by-step support.

Making a formal complaint (IPSEA)

Supporting a child who is being bullied

There's a range of advice and support for parents on how to deal with bullying:

Bullying (Contact charity)

SEN and disability (Anti-Bullying Alliance)

Bullying and cyberbullying (NSPCC)

Speak to someone

It can sometimes help to speak to someone about problems with bullying and how you can resolve them.


National Bullying Helpline

Family Lives helpline

Kidscape parent advice line

Last reviewed by Scope on: 29/11/2023

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