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About Bullying - Information for Parents

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Signs that your child might be being bullied:

It’s not always easy to tell if a young person is being bullied, as sometimes they don’t want to disclose what’s happening to them.

If you notice a significant change in behaviour, this could be cause for concern.  Other signs can include changes to mood or eating and sleep patterns; withdrawal from family, social groups or friends; decline in school performance or unwillingness to attend; lost, torn or broken belongings; scratches or bruises, or implausible excuses for any of the above.

The signs of possible cyberbullying can be the same as signs of other bullying, but include certain behaviour with phones and computers, for example:

  • being hesitant about going online
  • seeming nervous when an instant message, text message or email appears
  • being visibly upset after using the computer or mobile phone, or suddenly avoiding it
  • minimising the computer screen, or hiding the mobile phone when you enter the room
  • spending unusually long hours online in a more tense, pensive tone
  • receiving suspicious phone calls, emails or packages
  • withdrawing from friends, falling behind in schoolwork, or avoiding school.

What you can do if your child is being bullied

  • Listen – Try to listen to the whole story without interrupting.  Be empathic, calm and validate what is being said.  Ask what your child would like to happen, before you make suggestions.
  • Talk -      Have a conversation about what happened.  Try not to make the conversation intense or you might deter your child from talking to you.  Remind your child it’s normal to feel hurt, it’s never OK to be bullied, and it’s NOT their fault.
  • Find out what is happening – Note what, when and where the bullying occurred, who was involved, how often and if anybody else witnessed it.  Don’t offer to confront the person yourself.
  • Contact the school – Check your school’s bullying policy.  Find out if the school is aware of the bullying and whether anything has been done to address the situation.  Make an appointment to speak to your child’s teacher.  Try to make a follow-up appointment to ensure the situation is being addressed.
  • Give sensible advice – Encourage your child not to fight back, but coach them to use neutral or, if appropriate, joking language in response. Help them explore other possible responses.
  • Tell them that the behaviour was intentional and it won’t just go away.
  • Explain it’s safer to avoid people, places or situations that could expose them to further bullying.
  • If your child asks to stay home from school, explain that it won’t help and may make things worse.
  • If possible, help to make opportunities for them to join other groups of young people e.g. clubs at school or other groups outside of school time.