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Support for parents and carers

You might experience a huge range of emotions if you discover a child's being bullied. Whether it's a child in your care or someone you know, we have tips to help you cope.

1. Talk to them about bullying and cyberbullying

If you suspect your child is being bullied, explain to them what bullying is, and ask if anything like that has happened to them. Keep calm, and listen carefully to what they say.

They may feel really scared, embarrassed or ashamed that they’re being bullied, and they may be worried about what will happen if they tell anyone.

Once you know your child is being bullied, remember to check in with them regularly. Remind them that they can talk to you about how they’re feeling whenever they want.

Not sure how to start the conversation? Check out our advice on talking about difficult topics.

2. Let them know who to ask for help

If they don’t want to talk to you, suggest they have a chat with another trusted adult, such as a teacher or family member.

You could also suggest they contact Childline, where a trained counsellor will provide a listening ear.

They don’t have to give their name and they can talk about anything that’s worrying them.

3. Help them relax and take a time out

Children and young people may lack confidence as a result of bullying. Help them find things to do that make them feel good, like listening to, or playing, music, or doing sport. Give them opportunities to help build their confidence.

Remember to reassure them that it’s not their fault and that they’re loved and valued.

4. Report bullying on social media and online gaming

As well as supporting your child emotionally, there are practical steps you can take if the bullying has taken place on an online platform, such as a social media app or online gaming chat room.

  • Don’t stop them from using the internet or their mobile phone. It probably won’t help keep them safe, it may feel like they’re being punished and could stop them from telling you what’s happening.
  • Make sure your child knows how to block anyone who posts hateful or abusive things about them on each app or online service they use. You can usually find details of how to do this in the help or online safety area, under Settings.
  • Report anyone who is bullying your child to the platform that’s carried the offending comments, audio, image or video. Follow these links to contact some of the most popular social media platforms and learn more about blocking and reporting: 
    Instagram> Snapchat> 
    WhatsApp> Facebook> 
  • Thinkuknow has advice on online safety for young people that’s suitable for different age groups. The website shows children how to contact social media sites if they believe someone has posted something upsetting about them.
  • Block’em is a free app for Android users that blocks unwanted calls and text messages from specified numbers. Its website also provides advice for iOS users.
  • Worried about how to support a young person who has had a sexual image or video of themselves shared online? If they’re under 18, they can use Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation's discreet Report Remove tool to see if it can be taken down. Young people can get support from Childline throughout the process.

5. Report bullying videos shared online

Get in contact with the site the video's been shared on as soon as possible. Social networks are more likely to take the video down if the child involved in the video or their parents make the report. Depending on their terms and conditions, they may be able to remove it from the site.

6. Report hate crime

Bullying someone because of their gender, gender identity, sexuality, religious beliefs, race, skin colour or because they have a disability, is hate crime and against the law.

If this is happening to your child or a child you know, you or the child can report it online. You or your child can also contact the police by phone. Call 999 in an emergency or 101 at other times.

Citizen's Advice has further information about types of hate crime and discrimination you may find helpful. Children and young people can get advice and support from Childline

7. Talk to your child’s school or club

If your child is being bullied, you can talk to their school. It doesn't matter whether the bullying is happening on the premises, outside or on the internet. All schools have a responsibility to protect their pupils from bullying.

If your child is being bullied at a club, talk to the person in charge.

Arrange a meeting with their teacher

  • Take another person along with you for support if you feel it will help you.
  • Take a notebook so you can jot down what’s said at the meeting.
  • Bring any evidence you have of the bullying, such as text messages, a record of incidents, or screenshots if the bullying is happening online.
  • Tell them what effect the bullying is having on your child, and make it clear you expect them to respond.
  • Ask for a copy of the school or club’s anti-bullying policy, behaviour policy and complaints procedure. These may be available to you before the meeting on the school or club’s website.
  • Ask the teacher or organiser what action they’re going to take, making sure you all agree on what they propose to do.
  • Arrange a date to speak to them again so you can see what progress has been made.
  • The school may inform the Police if the bullying involves ongoing harassment and intimidation, or a hate crime, such as racism or homophobia.

If the bullying continues

Write a letter of complaint to the head teacher and arrange to meet them to discuss your concerns.

Continue to keep a record of incidents with as much information as you can including:

  • photographs of any physical injuries or damaged property
  • the date, location and approximate time of each incident
  • any contact (letters, emails etc) you’ve had with the school.

If that doesn’t resolve it, you will need to follow different advice depending on the type of school your child goes to.

If your child goes to a maintained/state school
Write to the chair of governors at the school address. The school office will be able to provide you with the chair’s name if it’s not on the school website.

Explain the situation and include copies of letters between you and the school, as well as any evidence of the bullying.

If the bullying still isn’t dealt with, you can then make a formal complaint to the Local Education Authority (LEA) in the area where the child goes to school.

If your child goes to a Free school or Academy
If you’re unhappy with the head teacher’s response, the academy or free school should organise a hearing with a panel made up of at least 3 people not involved in the complaint.

For further advice contact the Department for Education.

If your child goes to an independent/private school
Write to the chair of governors at the school address. The school office will be able to provide you with the chair’s name if it’s not on the school website.

Explain the situation and include copies of letters between you and the school, as well as any evidence you have of the bullying.

If the bullying continues, a complaint can be made to the Department for Education, which can consider reports of a major failure to ensure a child’s safety.

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