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Bullying - information and advice for parents

Knowing or suspecting that your child is being bullied can be very upsetting, but there's lots you can do to help tackle the problem.

What is bullying?

“Bullying is behaviour by an individual or group, repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally. Bullying can take many forms (for instance, cyber-bullying via text messages, social media or gaming, which can include the use of images and video) and is often motivated by prejudice against particular groups, for example on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, special educational needs or disabilities, or because a child is adopted, in care or has caring responsibilities. It might be motivated by actual differences between children, or perceived differences.”

Department of Education definition - Preventing and Tackling Bullying – DfE July 2017

Bullying behaviour can be…

  • Physical – pushing, poking, kicking, hitting, biting, pinching etc.
  • Verbal - name calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, threats, teasing, belittling.
  • Emotional – isolating others, tormenting, hiding books, threatening gestures, ridicule, humiliation, intimidating, excluding, manipulation and coercion.
  • Sexual – unwanted physical contact, inappropriate touching, abusive comments, homophobic abuse, exposure to inappropriate films etc.
  • Online /cyber – posting on social media, sharing photos, sending nasty text messages, social exclusion
  • Indirect - Can include the exploitation of individuals.

(Source: Anti-Bullying Alliance)

Spotting the signs of bullying

Sometimes children don't talk to their parents or carers about bullying because they don't want to upset them, or they think it will make the problem worse.

But if you suspect your child is being bullied, there are signs to look out for:

  • a reluctance to go to school;
  • unexplained tummy upsets or headaches;
  • showing signs of distress on a Sunday night or at the end of school holidays;
  • becoming either quiet or withdrawn, or playing up;
  • torn clothes and missing belongings;
  • seeming upset after using their phone, tablets, computers etc; and 
  • wanting to leave for school much earlier than necessary or returning home late. 

Bullying can have an impact on a child's mental health so if your child is showing signs of serious distress - such as depression, anxiety and self harm always see a GP.

(Source Anti-Bullying Alliance)

How to help your child if they are being bullied

If a child tells you they're being bullied, the first thing to do is listen. Allow your child to tell their story in their own words.

You could keep a diary of bullying incidents. It will help to have concrete facts to show the school, sports coach or club leader. The next step is to talk to the school or adult in charge of your child's club.

If you suspect bullying is occurring at school

  • talk to your child’s teacher to see what they can do
  • ask to speak with the school Anti bullying Champion, especially if the situation couldn't be resolved when talking with the class teacher
  • look at the schools Anti bullying policy (this may be part of the Behaviour policy and should be on the school web site)
  • find out more about bullying from some of the resources listed on this page  
  • find out what's happening in your child’s school in order to prevent bullying and how you may support this as a parent e.g. Anti-bullying Ambassadors, mentoring, playground buddies, ways in which the school celebrates differences and builds up positive relationships , Anti bullying week activities
  • ask what support the school can offer for a child who is being bullied, feeling vulnerable or is at risk of bullying
  • ask what sanctions, restorative work and counselling is available for perpetrators of bullying
  • if your child has special education needs or disabilities (SEND) you can get support from SENDiass  sendiass@bcpcouncil.gov.uk   
  • if your child is at risk of significant harm as a direct result of bullying you can contact the Children's First Response MASH on 01202 123334.
  • if you're not satisfied with the way a school has responded to an incident of bullying and you can't resolve this with staff you can use the school complaint process

Anti bullying work in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Thirty schools and colleges across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole have achieved a gold, silver or bronze 'All Together' against bullying award.

The government funded programme led by the Anti Bullying Alliance aims to reduce bullying in schools, particularly of disabled pupils and those with special educational needs (SEND).

Schools worked to achieve ‘All Together School’ status by evidencing their activity to improve their school approach to bullying, how they’ve worked to reduce bullying and improve well-being.

This is what some of our schools have said about the programme.

"We don’t have bullying at our school. If it was to happen the teachers would take this very seriously. Even if the bully has something going on in their life, it is not acceptable to take this out on others. Both the bully and the victim would then be supported by our teachers.” Year 5 student Avonwood Primary. 

“The project was a fantastic way to be able to pinpoint the areas for improvement. We now have strategies in place to create a safer and more respectful environment.” Baden Powell and St Peter’s Junior School.

“It has given our children confidence to understand bullying situations and the roles people play in them. Pupils are now able to break down scenarios in the playground and start to manage conflict due to consistent language used throughout the school.” St Katharine’s CE (VA) Primary.

“The school has put in a robust (anti-bullying) policy. It has helped the staff to understand what bullying is as opposed to friendship issues and this has had an impact on the way incidents are dealt with.” Canford Heath Infants.

“The project allowed us to systematically review our current practice and highlight areas to further develop promoting anti discriminatory practice at school.” Poole High