What is bullying?
The Anti-Bullying Alliance defines bullying as:
‘The intentional hurting of one person by another, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. It is usually repetitive or persistent, although some one-off attacks can have a continuing harmful effect on the victim.’
It can be directly physical or indirectly verbal such as intimidation through gesture, ignoring, spreading malicious rumours and excluding a person from a group. It can also take place through social media, mobile phones and the internet.
What signs should I look for in my child’s behaviour if I think they might be being bullied?
If you suspect that your child is being bullied, perhaps at school or through email, mobiles or social media, you may see these signs:
- showing stress, being moody, silent, crying, or bullying a younger friend or sibling
- making excuses to miss school, stomach complaints, headaches
- seems upset using the internet or their mobilephone
- changes in behaviour eg not wanting to join the same friendship group
- sleeps badly, changes eating habits, has bruises or scrapes, has torn clothes, school things broken or missing
- school work begins to go badly.
There could be a number of reasons for this behaviour, so you need to ask yourself if anything else is bothering your child, such as a change in family circumstances, a relative dying, or a new sibling.
What should you do if you suspect bullying?
If the bullying is somehow connected to school, it is important to contact them immediately. Schools have a key role to play, and they need to know about it. Keep in touch with your child and the school. It is hugely important that those closest to your children are able to support them.
If you need to talk to someone outside school, the following agencies can be helpful:
How can schools help?
All schools are aware of the need to keep pupils and staff physically and emotionally safe. They are expected to have an anti-bullying policy on reporting and preventing bullying in schools which should be available for parents and governors.
In this borough, the Anti-Bullying Alliance helps all schools prevent bullying. They also have access to the borough’s Bullying Prevention Strategy (2011) which has guidelines on writing an anti-bullying policy as well as resources and information for teaching staff, parents and pupils. The charity Stonewall has contacted all schools in the borough with information about their ‘School Champion’ programmes and ‘Different families’ resources.
It is always best to raise your concerns with your child’s school initially. If you would like to talk to someone outside the school, contact School Improvement and Standards on 020 8753 2884.