Bullying is when someone does something on purpose to upset or hurt another emotionally, mentally or physically. The bullying can be by anyone – friends, family, other students or a someone online – but this does not mean it is ok.

Bullying can happen face to face (individually or in a group) or online (phone, email or social media)– and can take different forms including name calling, spreading rumours, physical violence, or be called ‘teasing’ or ‘banter’.

For someone being bullied, it can be a very difficult time and can affect their emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. 

There may be times when your child struggles with certain relationships, such as friendships. Your child may feel excluded from a certain group of friends, or they may experience bullying. 

As a parent it can be difficult to hear that your child feels hurt or upset, but it is better for them to talk about how they’re feeling than to keep such feelings inside them. The best thing you can do is listen and support your child as they experience the ups and downs in their relationships and losing and making friends.

Bullying can include:

  • Teasing
  • Spreading rumours
  • Threatening
  • Physically and emotionally harming someone
  • Name calling
  • Constantly leaving someone out from a group. 

People may give reasons for why they bully others but bullying is never right and can never be justified. 

Bullying can happen anywhere, including at home or at school and online. Often bullying happen in a place where there is limited adult supervision such as in the playground, school halls, dining room or classrooms before lessons begin.

Bullying can also happen by text or online. Bullying that happens online is a form of cyberbullying, this is when technology, such as mobile phones and the internet, including online games is used to bully someone. Read more about cyberbullying here

If someone is being bullied it can make them feel miserable and can affect them in many different ways.

Your child may or may not tell you they are being bullied, but you may notice some changes in their behaviour such as:

  • Appearing anxious and worried
  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Not eating as much
  • Having low self confidence
  • Not wanting to talk about school
  • Wanting to avoid situations such as going to school or clubs
  • Being shy around other children and not wanting to play with them
  • Trouble expressing how they are feeling

If your child tells you they are being bullied, or if you suspect your child is being bullied, make time to talk about it in a quiet space and listen carefully to what they have to say. 

You can support your child by explaining that bullying is unacceptable and no one should have to put up with it, that you will support them and do whatever you can to stop it.

It’s important to talk to your child’s school when bullying is a problem, try and think of what you want to say beforehand. You may feel upset and emotional but try to stay calm, the teacher may not be aware of what has been happening. Find out what the school’s anti-bullying policy is and agree what will happen next.

You can also make an appointment with the headteacher to raise your concerns.

Developing your child’s self-esteem can also help protect your child against challenges such as bullying some tips can be found on our ‘mental and emotional page’. 

Often it is assumed that children who bully are ‘bad’ but many children can get involved in bullying for lots of different reasons. As a parent you may not want to hear that your child has been a bully but it is important to take a deep breath and realise there is a problem so you can take steps to support your child.

Family lives and Kidscape have some really great resources to support you if your child is bullying others.