The Parent’s Guide to Bullying is all about how to spot the signs of bullying, how to support your child and where to go for help. Bullying can have a serious impact on your child’s health and happiness. Indeed, bullying has been known to be the cause of serious physical and mental harm.
Form of Bullying
Bullying can take on so many forms, particularly now that so many teens have free access to the internet. These are just a few ways in which a child might be bullied.
- Physical harm: Anything from hair pulling to pinching or being beaten.
- Racial abuse: Being picked on because of their race, religion or cultural choices.
- Verbal abuse: This can be “dumbed down” to be called name calling or teasing however it is so much more than that.
- Theft: Personal items may be stolen.
- Personal Appearance: A child may be bullied because of their height, weight, hair colour, a defining feature, their clothing… anything.
- Isolation: Bullies may insist on a child sitting alone, no-one playing or hanging out with them, no-one volunteering to partner with them etc.
- Property damage: Clothing, electronics, school books and more may be damaged.
- Online Bullying: Children may receive nasty messages via social media, group messages may be abusive, pictures or doctored pictures may be shared etc.
Signs of Bullying
As a parent, it can be hard to know what is going on at school, at clubs or when your child isn’t with you with regards bullying especially. It is important that your children known from day one that no matter what, that your door is always open and that they can tell you anything.
Unfortunately, children are not always forthcoming, especially when it comes to what’s going on outside the house, and particularly with their feelings. While these are not all signs of bullying on their own they can certainly be an indication, particularly if you notice more than one.
- Headaches and stomach ache: These may be real (stress/ anxiety-related) or an excuse to come home from school or not go in.
- A lack of interest in school activities.
- Not speaking to his/her usual circle of friends.
- A reduction or the halting of social activities.
- Bruises, scratches and cuts. These may be explained away as accidents or sports injuries however it pays to be mindful.
- Lack of appetite or increased appetite (binging). Similarly, weight loss or weight gain.
- Moody behaviour, being easily upset or angered (this can be part of the norm for teenagers but again, be mindful of changes).
- Torn or damaged clothing.
- Lost belongings.
- Reluctant to talk about school/clubs.
- Homework not being done, grades dropping.
These are just a few signs that might indicate that your child is being bullied.
Taking Action and Supporting Your Child
If you suspect that your child is being bullied try to talk to them about it. Make it clear that you are on their side, that you can make it stop and that they can always talk to you about anything. They may open up to you or they may not. Either way, if you have concerns you need to seek out additional support.
Talk to your child’s form tutor, their head of year, wellness officer; anyone who you feel is best placed to properly investigate your concerns in terms of your child’s change in behaviour and bullying (confirmed or otherwise). The school or college will have a defined and strict behaviour policy in place which will include dealing with bullying and supporting victims of bullying.
Make sure that you follow up, insisting on regular updates on what steps are being taken and encourage working together, home and school, to support your child.
Out and About
If your child is a member of a sports club or any youth club or social group and you suspect bullying talk to those in charge of these groups to ask them to monitor the groups to see if they notice anything. If your child has told you outright that they are being bullied of course contact them immediately to report this and discuss how they are going to deal with it.
If your child is being bullied outside of school, physically or otherwise contact the police on the non-emergency number and ask to speak to somewhat about your concerns. If your child has admitted to being physically assaulted of course make a police complaint directly.
Bullying can cause both physical and mental harm. Your child might struggle with depression, anxiety, problems with eating, weight loss (or gain), self-harm or a number of other concerns. Your GP will be able to help you deal with these and signpost you towards additional sources of medical and mental health support. If you have reason to believe that your child may be having suicidal thoughts do not delay or wait for an appointment, see a healthcare provider immediately.
Support for You
Dealing with bullying is difficult for parents too. It’s never great to see that your little ones (yes, strapping big teenagers too) are unhappy. Talk it over with a friend or family member if you can (it’s good to unpack some of these feelings and frustrations from time to time) and remember that the Dream Bear community is always around with a shoulder and an ear.
Pass it on! If you’ve found The Parent’s Guide to Bullying helpful share it on your social media accounts or directly with someone you might feel would also find it useful. Look up our bullying guide for kids and bullying guide for teens too, both of which have been produced with those audiences in mind.