Signs of bullying and how to stop it

Posted by / Monday 14 November 2016 / Parenting Tips

Bullying is abuse. It can affect children’s school attendance, behaviour and performance at school. Bullying can damage children’s self-esteem and be detrimental to the child’s mental health. Children’s experiences of bullying can also affect them negatively even through to their adult years.

Over 50% of children will be affected by bullying at some point during school. So as a parent, it’s something you might have to deal with in the future.

We’ve written our guide to bullying below so you can see the signs and take action in the best way, if you think your child is being bullied.

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Signs of bullying

Finding cuts or bruises on your child, without hearing where they came from can be evidence of physical abuse at school. Your child losing their appetite can also be a signal that they are unhappy and anxious. They may complain of illness as an excuse so they don’t have to go to school.

You might also notice that your child is withdrawn and quieter than usual.

Your child might start to come home later or earlier than usual, which could be suspicious. If your child asks to be taken to school, or to come home for lunch or starts to skip school altogether, then something is probably not right.

Cyber bullying is also a big problem. A report from Action for Children last year showed that 1 in 7 children admitted to bullying online. If you notice your child jumping when their phone goes off, or not using their computer anymore cyber bullying could be affecting them. If you are worried about this, read our top tips for keeping your children safe online.

"If your child asks to be taken to school, or to come home for lunch or starts to skip school altogether, then something is probably not right"

What to do if your child is being bullied

The most important thing you can do is talk to your child. Try and get them to open up to you, then you can decide together how to tackle the problem. 

  • Let them know that they can tell you any problems they are having at school.
  • Assure them you won’t run off to the school or parents of the bully in anger, if they are being bullied. This is what children are often afraid of happening, so tell them you won’t do anything without coming to an agreement with them first.
  • Speak to your child about the possibility of approaching the school. It’s likely the child will feel very anxious about this, as they often worry that it will make the bullying worse. Explain to your child that the school will help. Most schools have policies against bullying and action plans in place. You should be able to find this online.
  • Take notes about what is happening to your child. Try and gather as much information about who is involved, what is happening and how often. Then you can report this back to the school.
  • Encourage your child to speak to their school counsellor about what is happening. School counsellors are there to help children going through any trauma at school.
  • Tell your child it’s not their fault this is happening, and that you will help however you can.

What not to do

  • Don’t tell your child to ignore it. By saying this, you are saying there is no real problem and that there is no reason for your child to feel bad. It verifies the bully’s behaviour as normal. If left without taking any action the bullying is also likely to continue. It's likely your child will already feel bad, and telling them to ignore it will make them feel a lot worse.
  • Don’t tell them to hit back. If your child is being bullied, it’s likely their confidence will already be low. Telling them they need to hit back will make them feel even more pressure. It’s likely to make them feel more stressed about the situation and feel even less confident in themselves. Plus this never helps to solve the problem, it usually just makes the bullying worse.