If your child is being bullied, you may spot one or more of these signs:
- showing stress - being moody, silent or crying, or bullying a younger sibling or friend
- making excuses to miss school, such as stomach complaints or headaches (or your child may be skipping school altogether)
- seems upset after using the internet or mobile, or changes their behaviour - for example, no longer wanting to look at new text messages immediately - and being secretive and unwilling to talk about their online activities and phone use
- is withdrawn
- has more bruises or scratches than usual
- changes their eating habits - eating less or more
- has torn clothes, school things that are broken or missing, or have 'lost' money
- sleeps badly
- if young, begins wetting the bed
There could, of course, be a number of reasons for this behaviour. So you need to ask yourself: could there be anything else bothering your child?
Are there are changes in your family life, such as: a new baby, or divorce or separation?
Is your child is bullying others? Some victims of bullying retaliate or begin to bully someone else.
Work with the school/organisation to help your child to learn that bullying behaviour is unacceptable, and to get the help they need to stop. Perhaps their leadership skills can be chanelled into a more socially acceptable route? Can they help protect younger pupils who have been bullied? Without losing face in front of their supporters, a new behaviour pattern needs to be established. Please consider the research that shows that punitive parenting can lead some children to bully others. Perhaps they have been bullied themselves at some time? All prejudice driven behaviour needs to be challenged - it is not acceptable to bullying others due to prejudice. There are some helpful sources of help and information below.
'Bullies may be unhappy and they come to school and take it out on their friends too make themselves feel big.'
'This boy was being hit at home and he came in and fought with everyone.'
'I think they should ask bullies why they have to behave this way? What are they trying to prove? We could be friends if they stopped bullying.'
What can parents and carers do to help?
The latest update from BIG Award for parents Read me
If you have reason to think your child is involved in a serious or dangerous situation online. Read me
Article for Mumsnet by BIG Award's Adrienne Katz on how parents can deal with sexting among teenagers.
Report your concerns about bullying at your child's school on Ofsted's new Parent View tool. Parent View gives parents and carers the opportunity to give their views on their child's school, and to rank 12 key aspects such as quality of teaching, behaviour, level of homework, bullying and ultimately whether or not parents would recommend the school to other parents.
Parent View will not only help parents as they make important choices about their child's education, but will also give Ofsted information about schools that will help them inform priorities for inspection.
For more information, visit http://parentview.ofsted.gov.uk.
Quick guide to 10 things your child's school should be doing.
Stories by parents for parents These are true personal stories that may help! Download a pdf More
Although schools have a key role to play, it is hugely important that those closest to your children are able to help and support them. Below are some sources of further support and advice: Please also see our pages BIG Help.
The Big Help pages contain specific advice on cyberbullying using the web, mobile phones or handheld devices.
Agencies that can help
- Familylife.org (Formerly Parentline Plus): 0808 800 2222
- Immediate support and advice for parents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Kidscape: 08451 205 204 A helpline for parents and carers of bullied children 10am to 4pm Monday–Friday.
- Advisory Centre for Education: 0808 800 5793
- Advice for parents and children on all school matters.
- Children's Legal Centre: 01206 873820
- Free legal advice on all aspects of the law affecting children and young people.
- The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) www.ceop.org.uk
- Provides help and advice on cyberbullying, the Centre maintains a website for children and young people, and parents and carers about staying safe online.
- Why not talk to other mums at mumsnet? Getting the views of other parents can help put things in perspective
http://www.o2.co.uk/parents offers clear sound advice.
Technology offers exciting new opportunities but there are challenges too. Children increasingly have access to the web unsupervised – alone in their bedroom for example. These new ways of communicating seem to make people feel detached – they are no longer face to face and say and do things without thinking. They can feel uninhibited and say hurtful things to another which they would never do in real life. A child or young person may also be vulnerable to people targeting children with intent to harm.
Teach your child to be safe online:
A Parent's Guide to Technology
is an online resource providing advice for parents about the benefits, capabilities and potential risks of smartphones, gaming devices, tablets and internet-enabled media players. It introduces some of the most popular devices, such as the BlackBerry, iPhone, iPod Touch and 3DS, highlighting safety tools that are available, as well as setting out top tips to help parents encourage their children to stay safe when using these technologies. From the UK Safer Internet Centre.
Parents' Guide to 'sexting' produced by the Sex Education Forum and the Anti Bullying Alliance for Safer Internet Day 2013
Give your child this advice:
Only answer messages from people you know
Never arrange to meet someone you have met online without telling your parents or carers
Don’t give your personal details to anyone online or send out photos which can identify you –
for example showing your school details.
People can be lying about their age or who they are online
Remember you leave an electronic footprint online so if you send nasty emails or create online material or images, this can remain on the internet and be traced to you.
Never be forced into anything by what you see or read online.
Do not reply to nasty messages but save them as evidence – if you delete them it is more difficult to
If your child has received nasty or abusive texts, emails or chat room messages, or is bullied on social networking
sites, there are steps you can take. Tell your child their mobile or computer access will not be taken away if they tell you about bullying. (Some children fear this will happen and do not report).
Save all evidence, picture clips, texts, emails or other messages/threats or offensive material.
Report offensive material/messages to the site or service provider
Block the sender of emails using your email block sender tool
Software can limit access to chat rooms - if your child is looking for intimacy online excessively - they could be unhappy ion their real world relationsips. This can make them more vulnerable.
Ensure the school, club or youth group and home computer has filters that are working
Consider changing the phone number
If someone or something makes your child feel uncomfortable or worried, online abuse can be reported at
Clean up any list of friends on Facebook - keep only those your child knows well in real life.
A really useful interactive website from Open College answers many of your questions.
Help your child to adjust their account settings so that only approved friends can send them instant messages.
This won't ruin their social life – new people can still send them friend requests and message them,
they just won't be able to pester them via Instant Messenger (IM).
Check if your child has ticked the “no picture forwarding” option on their social networking site settings page – this
will stop people sending pictures from their page around the world without their consent.
In your family PC
Not a lot of people know it, but your PC has some pretty decent, easy-to-use parental controls already built in. For Windows 8, it's called Family Safety. For Windows 7 or Apple Mac, it's called Parental Controls. These all allow you to create a locked user account for your children with time controls and restrictions for sites they can visit, games they can play or what programs on the PC they can use. For newer Windows PCs, you can also set it up to deliver reports on what your child has been doing. It's a basic, ultra-restrictive option but one you can do immediately.Open your PC, open 'search' (from Start menu in Win 7, from Spotlight search on Mac or just start typing on Win 8 or Mac). Type 'parental controls' (Win 7 and Mac) or 'family safety' (Win 8). Add a new account and choose between the safety features offered.
Get further help from http://www.childnet-int.org/
McAfee reveals new family internet protection tool
Watch the Childnet Know It All advice for parents here Childnet offers some Know It All (KIA) items in British Sign Language.
Parents' guide to snapchat
Parent's guide to Facebook
Parent's guide to Instagram
The Good Schools Guide, your child and schools
Bullying can be a big worry for parents when their child starts school and throughout school life.
The Good Schools Guide can help by providing parents with the information they need to choose
the right school for their particular child.
The Good Schools Guide features all 30,000 UK schools, offers a wealth of helpful articles and
advice and gives in depth, honest reviews of over 1100 state and independent schools based on
personal visits and interviews with parents, children, staff and head teachers.
Schools are assessed on everything from academics to extracurricular activities and university destinations.
Pastoral care and bullying policies (and practice) are carefully scrutinised and frankly described:
“pupils care for each other with uncommon empathy in this ‘community of individuals’ ...
strong sense of fairness and honouring individual differences”.
“doubts remain over the handling of difficult or sensitive cases”
“it’s an un-cliquey place – impossible, you would have thought, in a girls’ school”
“recent exclusions for cyber bullying, discussed openly and frankly in assemblies and pastoral time"
“the obvious discrepancies between the houses can spill over into status issues for some girls”
If you, or a family member, has experienced bullying at school, then please do tell The Good Schools Guide –
leave a comment on individual school pages or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about bullying and The Good Schools Guide here:
For individual help and guidance, The Good Schools Guide’s Advice Service consultancy has decades
of experience helping parents find schools and solve educational problems.
The Good Schools Guide is available as a book or via web subscription at www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk