Bullying and Cyberbullying

Unfortunately, numerous children are victims of either school bullying or cyberbullying. They might even be bullied for taking education seriously and having supportive parents – which other pupils might consider ‘uncool’. Bullying should always be taken seriously. Here are some tips and advice for parents dealing with bullying.


Children are often pressurised to conform with their peers. Any differences – hair style or colour, body size, schoolbag, race, ability or attitude – can make them a potential target for bullying.

This is not to say that your child has to change and conform to fit in – but schools and establishments need to have adequate procedures to prevent and deal with bullying, and your child needs to be resilient enough to seek help.

The NSPCC arranged 26,000 counselling sessions for young victims of bullying in 2015. The rise of technology and smartphones means that bullying even reaches children when they are ‘safe’ at home, leaving them afraid, depressed and isolated.


Bullying includes physical abuse; violence; intimidation and threatening behaviour; taunting; verbal name-calling – and more insidiously, forcing someone to do something against their will; isolating them, humiliating them or making fun of them; or exploiting their insecurities.

General awareness

Even if your child isn’t being bullied, it’s a good idea to discuss the issue. Explain that bullying is unacceptable and if they are ever made to feel bad by others, or if they see others suffering, they should not hesitate to tell someone.


Your child may be reluctant to speak out, so recognise the signs early on. You might notice a change in their character, behaviour, mood or attitude. Perhaps they are quieter, more emotional, unhappy, depressed or lonely. Reluctance to go to school, do a favourite activity or even wear a certain piece of clothing, could all be signs they are being bullied.

The bullying may be physical, so you might notice unexplained bruises, marks or ripped clothing. They may also be hungry because lunch money has been stolen, or be missing some possessions through intimidation.

If your child is being bullied

Confiding in you

Educate children about bullying and encourage them to share their feelings. Provide strong support at home if they are targeted.

Appreciate that they may not want to tell you, or the school, for fear that things will get worse. Explain the processes calmly.

Some children feel embarrassed that they are being bullied and start to believe they have done something wrong. Reassure them that it is not their fault.

Ask your child to confide in you and praise them for telling you. Listen to everything they say and stay calm. Don’t overreact.

If they won’t talk to you

They might speak with specialist services or people not directly involved, so ensure that they have access to support. Childline have a telephone helpline as well as online services. Nearly 45,000 children contacted them for support against bullying in 2013.

Taking action

Schools have anti-bullying policies and take the issue very seriously. They should deal with the bully. Contact the school to raise the issue, book an appointment and, if necessary, involve the police.

Make sure that you have all of the facts such as names, dates, times and incidents and tell your child to log every confrontation.

Some useful resources are NHS Livewell and Bullyinguk, which has a helpline. Childline offers support too.

After a bullying revelation, encourage your child to spend time with family or trusted friends and to do activities they enjoy, while school or authorities deal with the bullies.

If all else fails, your child might prefer changing class or school.

My child is a bully

Show them Am I a Bully? Talk to them about their behaviour and its effects on others. Educate them, and contact the school if necessary.



Easy access to social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and WhatsApp) and mobile devices mean that cyberbullying could occur anywhere, anytime.

Being online or texting can give people a sense of ‘invincibility’ – they will say things they wouldn’t say face-to-face. 1 in 3 young people have felt threatened online. Instant messaging, forums, gaming sites, chat rooms and comments in anonymous websites like Ask, can all expose children to inappropriate people or material that can victimise them.

There is a minimum age (usually 13) for children to join social media sites, so ensure that your child respects this.

It can be difficult spotting the signs of cyberbullying, but if you notice that your child is sad or upset after spending time online, or you notice any social changes – unusual or increased activity online or on their mobile phone, or if you see unknown numbers contacting them – these might be signs.


  • Set clear rules and boundaries and place parental controls on devices
  • Educate children on internet safety. Advise them to only accept people they know as friends, keep personal information and location private, and talk to you if they feel worried
  • You could suggest that they accept you or an older sibling as a social media friend, to watch over them (but expect them to say, ‘No way!’)
  • Encourage your child to talk to you if they feel threatened, upset or humiliated
  • Help them to log any evidence of cyberbullying (take screenshots of conversations and save text messages)
  • Block any bullies and report incidents to the website provider
  • Contact your child’s mobile phone network to change their telephone number
  • If the bullies are fellow pupils, contact the school
  • If serious, or persistent after you have taken other measures, contact the police


Explain that bullying can happen to anyone. It is not their fault, but the bully’s. Even the bully has probably been bullied themselves, causing them to lack empathy. Pity them.

Bullying is distressing for everyone. Communication is vital. Educate children about bullying, so they are able to recognise if it happens to them or others.

Reassure them that they can trust you and all will be well. Make sure they know that you will protect and support them, and can make the bullying stop.

Last but not least, there is help and support for your child – and for you. Do use it.

  1. Bullying comes in many shapes and forms. Which of the following is not a form of bullying?
    Exclusion and isolation can be forms of bullying, for example refusing to include a child in group activities either socially or at playtime. Not picking a child for sport may be part of this but not necessarily. Not everyone can be picked and some children are not quite as good at sport as their peers
  2. According to a 2011 report, how many 11-15 year old children miss out on school due to bullying?
    The figures represent children who missed 28 or more half-days at school because of bullying, and children who are educated at home in order to protect them from bullying. If we take in truancies and 'sick' days the numbers may be much higher
  3. Children may not want anyone to know they are being bullied. Which of the following are signs to look out for?
    There are many signs that may indicate your child is the victim of bullies. 19 possible warnings are listed on the Character website:
  4. Which of the following is NOT a good piece of advice for you to give your child?
    Walking away from bullies is not the same as ignoring them - once your child is out of the bully's way they can report the incident. If a bully's actions are ignored they may continue but if reported they will, hopefully, stop
  5. According to figures provided by the NSPCC, what percentage of children will experience some sort of bullying?
    Nearly half of all children in the UK will be bullied at sometime during their school career. 45,000 children contacted Childline about bullying in 2013 and 26,000 counselling sessions were organised by the NSPCC for the victims of bullying in 2015. Clearly, bullying is a major problem for youngsters today
  6. If your child is being bullied at school then you will need to contact them. Who should you approach first?
    If there is a particular teacher who your child feels more at ease with then they are a good place to start and can take your worries forward. If the issue is not swiftly resolved then you may want to make a complaint to the head teacher. You can find some good advice on making a complaint on the Bullying UK website at this address:
  7. If you discover that your child is a bully, which of the following is NOT a suitable reaction?
    Bullies are often themselves victims of bullying. Children tend to copy behaviour they see so check that there is no bullying going on in your home. A lack of empathy for others is common amongst bullies so try to get your child to understand how their words and actions might upset others. Finally, let your child know that it is their behaviour you disapprove of - not them themselves. If they feel unwanted that may make their behaviour worse
  8. If your child receives a bullying email, which of the following should you do?
    Internet service providers have email addresses to which you can send complaints about online abuse coming from their network. Forward any abusive emails to their sender's ISP
  9. If you suspect that your child is being bullied, the first thing to do is talk to them. Which of these should you NOT do?
    You will need your child to be open and honest with you. Find a quiet and private place where you won't be disturbed. Be patient with them and reassure them that they can trust you. Aggressive reactions, such as you storming into school or your child hitting the bully, will only make matters worse
  10. According to statistics gathered in the United States, which form of bullying is most common in schools?
    Verbal bullying includes name-calling and the spreading of rumours. The figures, gathered by, showed that 77% of American students had been verbally bullied in some way


Author: Linda Innes

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