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According to Childline the charity delivered more than 24,000 counselling sessions with children about bullying in 2016/17.

Bullying can be a warning sign of other problems, like those covered in this guide, or could lead to them if undetected.

Talking about bullying may be the first step in speaking about all of these issues.

For the bullied, there’s often a fear speaking out about what’s happening to them could make things worse.

What are the signs?

Signs a child is being bullied according to stopbullying.gov

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide


Signs a child is bullying according to stopbullying.gov

  • Get into physical or verbal fights
  • Have friends who bully others
  • Are increasingly aggressive
  • Get sent to the head teacher's office or to detention frequently
  • Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
  • Blame others for their problems
  • Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity

How do I talk to my child about bullying? 

The NSPCC has the following helpful advice when approaching a difficult topic:

Create the right situation;

  • There's no telling how long the conversation is going to last, so the first thing to consider is where and when you're going to start it off. And it's probably not a great idea to have it in the evening when people are tired and might not be in the mood to concentrate.

  • Unless it's a chat you want to have with more than one child, it's also sensible to have it at a time when brothers and sisters aren't around to interrupt.

  • It could be good to have it in a relaxed and neutral place like on a walk or a bike ride or even when you're in the car. You could also ask other parents you know how they've created the right situation to talk about difficult topics in the past and see if it would work for you too.

Starting the topic;

  • Do it too forcefully and they may well clam up straight away. But if you take a more subtle approach you can find the chat gets derailed and you're soon talking about something entirely different.

    It can be a good idea to try to make the conversation relevant in some way. For example, if you're watching TV together and the on-screen action has something to do with the subject you want to talk about – say a character is being bullied – you could kick things off by asking your child what they'd do in the same situation.

  • There are lots of story books written specially to help when you don't know quite how to talk to children about serious subjects like death, abuse and bullying. There are different titles for different age groups and they make great starting points for you to broach a subject.

    After you've read the story together a couple of times just ask some gentle questions about their understanding of what it was about and what they would do if they were the character in the story.

  • Another very good way to get your child's immediate interest could be to say that a friend of yours needs some advice about a particular issue and to ask if they have any ideas.


 Stopbullying.gov offers this advice when talking to children about bullying:

  • Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help.

  • Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.

    For example:
    1. What was one good thing that happened today? Any bad things?
    2. What is lunch time like at your school? Who do you sit with? What do you talk about?
    3. What is it like to ride the school bus?
    4. What are you good at? What would do you like best about yourself?
  • Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.

  • Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.

  • Encourage kids to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. The adult can give comfort, support, and advice, even if they can’t solve the problem directly. Encourage the child to report bullying if it happens.

  • Talk about how to stand up to kids who bully. Give tips, like using humor and saying “stop” directly and confidently. Talk about what to do if those actions don’t work, like walking away

  • Talk about strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other kids.

  • Urge them to help kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.

Where else can I get help?

  • School; by law schools must have a behaviour policy which sets out how it will deal with bullying.

    They will work with you to help your child. 

    The school may discipline the bullies at school but some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. 

    These include violence or assault, theft, repeated harassment or intimidation, and hate crime.

    Any discipline must take account of special educational needs or disabilities that the pupils involved may have.

    Here is how you can complain about a school if you think it hasn’t dealt with your concerns.

© Produced by Adele Norris in association with Eagle Radio