If your child is being bullied

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 on bullying for parents (Bullying UK)

Bullying 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. Talk about what a good friend is and how to be one back.

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.

Life skills to help your disabled child become independent

Your Child's Self-Esteem (KidsHealth)

A psychologist says parents should 18 things to raise a more confident child (Independent)

Talking to your child's school about bullying

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

You might need to speak to your child’s head of year, headteacher or Special Educational Needs co-ordinator (if they’re involved with your child) to make sure the school deals with the bullying. It’s important to make sure the school works with your child to sort the problem in a way that helps them.

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 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 cyber bullying? (Bullying UK)

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 or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO).

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 and 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)

The Anti-Bullying Alliance has advice on making a complaint. Download the template complaint letters and step-by-step support.

Advice for making a formal complaint (IPSEA)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 28/05/2019

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