Help! My child is being bullied at school

It is important to discuss what bullying really is with your child so that they can identify it if it occurs and understand why it is wrong.

 The vast majority of bullying incidents at school often go unreported.

Is your child being bullied at school?

Stamping out bullying in schools is not easy. Bullies are very clever at covering their tracks and children who are bullied – as well as those who see bullying – are often too frightened to report it.

We chat with Lyndy Mansfield, a former teacher and a Childline counsellor who has specialised in issues related to bullying, for advice on what you can do about bullies at your child’s school.

Where does bullying at schools occur?

Children themselves compiled this list:

  • In the classroom, mostly when the teacher is out of the room
  • In the toilets
  • In secluded or unsupervised areas of the playground
  • In corridors and stairwells
  • While walking home
  • On the school bus

What children say about why children bully

  • To show off
  • They don’t have anything better to do
  • They think they are “big stuff”
  • They are jealous of you or want something you have
  • At home, they don’t get enough attention
  • They try to show other people that they are strong and powerful when they are not really
  • Sometimes they don’t feel too good about themselves

Children who bully are made, not born

There are many reasons why children might become bullies. Fried & Fried (1996) identified that bullies are often children who come from a dysfunctional home environment, or from families where there is a high level of violence, a lack of clear rules, little or inconsistent discipline, poor supervision, and not much interest in the child. Without love, respect, and support, a child may have little empathy and tolerance for others.

How a school environment can influence bullying behaviour

Schools that ignore bullying and who condone initiation where children have to perform acts that are humiliating contribute to the bullying attitude. Children who present with learning problems at school can become aggressive and pick on others too. It’s important for parents, and teachers alike, to ensure children are neither bullied nor accepting of being bullied.

Bullying Red Flags

Signs that your child might be getting bullied at school can include:

  • Avoiding school or activities
  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in hygiene
  • Dropping grades
  • Headaches, stomach aches, and other illnesses
  • Mood and personality changes

What to do if your child is being bullied

If your child tells you they are being bullied please take it seriously – some parents don’t and this can lead to your child feeling even more isolated and alone. Encourage your child to keep a diary of all incidents and notify your child’s school immediately.

Teachers and school administrators can help by keeping the communication lines open and letting students know that if they are bullied or witness bullying, anyone on staff – from their classroom teacher and guidance counsellor to the school principal – is available to listen.