Safe Parenting Handbook >> Bullying

"It happens most days. They call me smelly and fat. They made me give them money again yesterday. They're in the same class and they're always laughing at me. They said if I tell it will be ten times worse. Sometimes I don't go to school... I can't stand it anymore."

  • Children have the right not to be hurt
  • Bullying behaviour is unacceptable
  • Bullying can happen to any child at any age
  • Act immediately if you think your child is being bullied
  • Children need ways to protect themselves and seek help
  • Advise your child to run, yell and tell

The real story

Bullying is a frightening experience. It can isolate and damage a young person's self-confidence. Some ongoing bullying can have long-term effects on children, leading to depression and even suicidal thoughts and actions.

School days are a time when the influence of other children is very important and fitting in is seen as essential. If children are thought of as different for any reason, they can be picked on and bullied. Sadly, we still live in a society in which to be different in any way can mean ridicule and bullying (often copied from parents) and this ensures that prejudice will continue into the next generation. It is crucial to be alert to the possibility of bullying and make sure you know the tell-tale signs.

You may think that you child is unlikely to be bullied but the reality is that bullying can happen at any time and to any child.

Information for Parents

Being able to recognise the tell-tale signs that might indicate that your child is being bullied is vital. Whilst these signs can be a useful indicator they do not necessarily point to bullying.

However, the following are signs to look out for:

  • Reduced appetite.
  • Has sudden low self-esteem.
  • Interest in school events has diminished.
  • A change in the behaviour - moody, depressed, tearful, or quiet and withdrawn.
  • Feeling sick when they get up, or has a headache, or stomach ache, and doesn’t want to go to school.
  • Your child has unexplained cuts and bruises.
  • Personal items have been damaged, broken, or are missing.
  • Fewer friends than before, or no friends at all.
  • Comes home from school with torn clothes.
  • No desire to take the bus to school.
  • Personal belongings have been damaged, broken, or been stolen.
  • Walks to school using a different route than used previously

Mobile Phones and Internet Access

Parents need to be aware of their children’s use of modern methods of communication, especially mobile phones and internet use (social network sites). If your child accesses the internet in their bedroom, be sure to regularly talk to your child about the sites they are accessing and ensure they are ok.

Keep your eyes and ears open and as soon as you suspect anything – a possible sign to look out for is children’s behaviour dramatically changing after receiving texts on their phones or emails.

How Parents can help – top tips

  • If you are worried that your child is being bullied, ask him/her directly
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of bullying
  • Take bullying seriously and find out the facts when told about an incident of bullying
  • Don't agree to keep the bullying a secret
  • If bullying is taking place in school talk with a teacher or headteacher. Talk to the parent governors at your school and suggest a school policy on bullying. If you meet with any difficulties - email experience@kidscape.org.uk.
  • If it is in a Youth Club speak to the youth worker
  • Help children practise strategies such as shouting no, walking with confidence and running away visit following website www.kidscape.org.uk/childrenteens/sayingno
  • Give your child a chance to vent his/her feelings about being bullied
  • Get other parents together and discuss ways to stop the bullying
  • Arrange to meet your child, if the bullying is happening on the way to or from school
  • Ask that the bullies be kept at school until everyone has had a chance to get home
  • If you feel it would help your children's confidence, ask them if they would like to take self-defence classes
  • Check that your child is not inviting the bullying by some obnoxious habit, such as spitting, picking his nose, etc
  • Keep a written diary of all incidents
  • Invite children over to help your child make friends

More information if you think you child is a victim of bullying

Talk to your child – reassure them that they can trust you and that you want to help sort out any problems. Encourage them to talk to other people they trust if they want.

Keep a record or a diary – this can be used as evidence of the scale of the issue but keep encouraging you child to talk to you. IF your child is being bullied through mobile phones or internet make sure you keep copies of the texts or emails.

Contact the setting where bullying is occurring e.g. Youth Club, School, Sports Club

Talk to the Class Teacher, Youth Worker, Coach REMEMBER it is not their fault, they should be as keen as you to resolve the issue. Ask them to keep an eye on the situation

Encourage your child to expand their circle of friends

If the bullying persists, write to the setting asking them for a copy of their bullying policy – all good setting will have a bullying policy place and all settings will have a Child Protection Policy and designated Child Protection Coordinator.

If you need to take the matter further, your child can contact the local Authority in Blaenau Gwent there is a Children’s Complaints Service

  • Tel 08000 121 123
  • Text 07786 202915
  • Email help@servicebuddy.co.uk
If the bullying is violent you can contact the Police.

Do not take matters into your hands and do not let your child stay at home from school or the setting.

Bullies who continually harm other children need support and help as well. They may have experienced difficulties of their own at home, which may have led to their actions. Reporting concerns may help them to get help as well.

  • Bullying can happen anywhere but most commonly it happens in school
  • Bulling can take many forms, from verbal abuse, internet bullying to physical attack
  • Bulling is a repeated abuse of a child by one or several people
  • Bullies are not always older than the child they harm
  • Most bullying is done by children who are the same age as the victim.

If your child tells you about a friend or any other child who is being bullied - listen carefully and take this seriously. That child may not be able to say for themselves what is happening.

Since September 2003 all schools must, be law, have a policy to prevent all forms of bullying. (Circular 23/2003 NAfW)
Warning Signs
What to say
Running away, non-attendance at school, other learning and behavioural difficulties for no obvious reason. Your child has injuries with no feasible explanation for them. See someone at their school for their support and action. If bullying is happening outside school, consider contacting the family of the child who is bullying and try and find a way to work together to sort it out. Refuse to put up with bullying. Walk away, tell an adult or friend and avoid fighting. Parents - listen to your child, reassure and be there for them. Talk to your child about their school day. Teach your child that prejudice and bullying is unacceptable.
  • If school based, initially contact the school
  • Blaenau Gwent Education Welfare Service 01495 350555
  • Kidscape 020 7730 3300
  • Anti Bullying Campaign 020 7378 1446
  • Childline 0800 1111
  • NSPCC Bi Lingual Service 0808 100 2524
  • CURB (Children's risk and bullying 24 hour answer service) 029 2061 1300
  • List of local counselling services http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk

Blaenau Gwent Local Safeguarding Children's Board, Heart of the Valleys Children's Centre, Old Blaina Infant School,
High Street, Blaina, Blaenau Gwent, NP13 3BN - Tel: 01495 355584