Bullying: 'She was in tears every day'

Bullying is a common problem, but parents can take action to help their children, says Amy McLellan

One mother recalls her horror at finding out her eight-year-old daughter was being bullied at school. "She came home every day in tears. The school seemed to think that this was just part of growing up. It only stopped when we moved her to a new school."

Bullying is a widespread problem in schools. A survey by Childline (www.childline.org.uk) found that half of all primary children and more than one in four secondary pupils had been bullied in the previous year. Last year the charity received more than 31,000 calls from victims of bullying, many of whom had kept it secret from their parents, for fear that they would make it worse, or worry.

Parents need to watch for the warning signs. If your child is anxious about going back to school, have a chat with them, then take a deep breath. Your instincts may be to storm up to the school or, the bully's house, but you need to give your child time to talk. Solutions are likely to involve the school, so get your child's permission to talk to a teacher.

The response from schools can vary. They are required to have an anti-bullying policy and it's worth asking for a copy to make sure they are following their own guidelines, says Liz Carnell of Bullying Online.

The charity's website (www.bullying.co.uk) contains a step-by-step guide for parents on how to approach the school.

"If it's a primary school, ask the teacher if they've spotted anything," says Carnell. "Primary teachers can limit contact with the bully in the classroom or step up supervision in the playground." Secondary school bullying is harder to crack as it's much more difficult for teachers to build up a picture of what's going on.

"Don't let the school brush you off because the bullying happens outside school," says Carnell. "Teachers have the power to act on bullying in the vicinity of the school."

Encourage your child to keep a diary of incidents and save abusive emails or text messages as evidence to put before the school. If your first approach doesn't work, write a letter to the head. If that fails, contact the governors and the LEA.

All of this takes time, during which your child may be going through hell. Speaking to a counsellor, either on the phone or online, can help them cope, as can assertiveness exercises. Never advise your child to hit back, though: it leaves them open to allegations of assault and may escalate the violence.

Hilary Wilce, author of Help Your Child Succeed at School (Piatkus), says short-term solutions can include working out a different route home, picking your child up, or even buying a different pair of trainers.

Try not to let the problem dominate at home. "Find outside interests,so they can make a different friends," says Wilce.

The most important thing is to act. Don't let teachers dismiss your concerns. Wilce says, "You know your child best and if you think there's something wrong there usually is."

It's not just the short-term symptoms of anxiety and poor school work; there are also long-term problems, from self-harm to severe depression.

"Bullying doesn't just stop," says Carnell of Bullying Online. "It doesn't usually get resolved unless children confide in an adult and the adult takes it seriously."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee