The complete parent and carer guide to anti-bullying
Bullying can be an issue for many school students. Our complete step-by-step guide can help you support your child if they are experiencing bullying.
What is bullying?
Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. Bullying of any form or for any reason can have immediate, medium and long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders. Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying.
Bullying has three key features. It:
- involves a misuse of power in a relationship
- is ongoing and repeated, and
- involves behaviours that can cause harm.
Bullying can also occur online. This is known as cyberbullying which is using technology such as the internet or mobile devices to bully someone. It can include sending abusive texts and emails, posting hurtful messages and putting inappropriate comments on pictures of others.
Bullying of any kind is not acceptable in NSW schools, whatever the reason. Schools are committed to working with parents, staff and students to prevent bullying and respond quickly and effectively if it does occur.
Video - You're Wonderful
Duration - 1:30
Students from Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School showed us that valuing every individual by simply sharing a positive message can have an extraordinary result.
Anti-bullying NSW created this video, along with an anti-bullying strategy, to address the importance of positivity and the power it has to drown out bullying.
How can I tell if my child is involved in bullying?
Children who are bullied or are bullying others may respond and act differently.
Your child's behaviour and mood can change for a variety of reasons. Be alert to the possibility that the change may be related to bullying.
You may notice your child:
- doesn't want to go to school or participate in school activities
- changes their route to school or becomes frightened of walking to school
- drops in academic performance
- changes sleeping or eating patterns
- has frequent tears, anger, mood swings or anxiety
- takes money from home
- has unexplained bruises, cuts or scratches
- loses or brings home damaged belongings or clothes
- asks for extra pocket money or food
- arrives home hungry.
The signs of online bullying can be the same as signs of other bullying but may include other behaviours with phones and computers. For example, your child may:
- be hesitant about going online
- seem nervous when an instant message, text message or email appears
- be visibly upset after using the computer or mobile phone, or suddenly avoid it
- close a laptop or hide a mobile phone when others enter the room
- spend unusually long hours online.
Often children do not report bullying to their parents. This may be because they are afraid of upsetting their parents, feeling ashamed, afraid of making things worse, or worried that they may lose privileges such as access to the internet.
Listening and understanding when your child talks to you about bullying
Your child needs to know that they are being heard. Their feelings matter and their concerns should be taken seriously. Encourage your child to talk about what happened. Explain to your child that reporting the bullying is okay. After listening to their concerns, ask questions to get more details if needed: who, what, where, when.
Ask your child what they want to do? And what they want you to do
It is important that you help your child to find their own solution as this will help them feel that they have some control over the situation.
Your child may be reluctant for you to speak to school staff. Discuss the idea and reassure them that the school would want to know and is able to help.
Make an appointment to meet with your child's teacher and, if you need to, ask to talk with the principal.
Contact the school immediately if you have a concern about your child's safety.
If your child wants to talk to someone other than the school, or you think added support would help, you may refer them to Kids Helpline. They can also call for free on 1800 55 1800.
Discuss and practise strategies to respond to bullying
Many children and young people want to try to deal with the bullying themselves in the first instance.
The strategies below may be useful if your child feels safe using these ideas:
- Ignoring the person doing the bullying.
- Telling them to stop and then walking away.
- Pretending you don't care; act unimpressed or not bothered.
- Moving to somewhere safe.
Practise with your child at home so they can use the strategies in situations they find difficult. Give feedback on whether they are getting their message across assertively. Practising at home can help your child feel more confident about trying the strategies at school.
When do I contact the school?
Your child may be reluctant for you to speak to school staff. Discuss the idea and reassure them that the school would want to know and is able to help. If needed, make an appointment to meet with your child's teacher. You could also ask to talk with the principal. Contact the school immediately if you have a concern about your child's safety.
Do I need to report bullying to the police?
Call the police if your child is physically threatened, and report serious online bullying behaviour to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.