Bullying and cyberbullying Keeping children safe

We can all play a part in helping keep children safe from bullying and cyberbullying - whether it's happening at school, at home or online.

Tips for parents and carers

Boy sitting on steps looking at phoneIt can be really distressing to discover that your child is being bullied. However hard it is, try to stay calm and don't jump to conclusions. Your child may be really worried about talking to you about the bullying, and scared that it'll make the situation worse.

These tips will help you keep them safe whether you've found out that they're being bullied or you want to make sure they know what to do it if happens to them or someone they know.

Explain to your child what bullying is, and ask if they're being bullied. Keep calm, and listen carefully.

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 often. Remind them they can talk to you about how they are feeling whenever they want.

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

If your child is being bullied they might be scared to ask for help, because they think it'll make the bullying worse. Let them know they can always talk to you, or another trusted adult such as a teacher or other family member.

If they don't want to talk to you, you could suggest they contact ChildLine where a counsellor will provide a listening ear. They don't have to give their name and they can talk about anything that is worrying them.

Childline

Childline is our free, confidential helpline for children and young people. Whenever children need us, Childline is there for them – by phone, email or live chat.

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If your child is being bullied they may feel down, worried or lack confidence.

Help them find things to do that make them feel good like listening to music or playing sport. Give them opportunities to help build their confidence.

Remember to reassure them that it's not their fault and that they are loved and valued.

ChildLine has friendly advice and tips for children on building their self-esteem, being more assertive and coping with embarrassment.

Cyberbullying can be really hard for a child to deal with because they can feel like there's no escape.

Don't stop them from using the internet or their mobile phone. It probably won't help keep them safe and could stop them from telling you what's happening.

Thinkuknow has advice on online safety for young people that is suitable for different age groups. Their 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. Their website also provides advice for iOS7 users.

Keeping your child safe online

Helpful advice and tools you can use to help keep your child safe whenever and wherever they go online.

Online safety advice

If your child is being bullied, you can talk to their school. It doesn't matter whether the bullying is happening in school, 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.

You should:

  • arrange a meeting with the teacher or club organiser - you can bring another person along with you for support if you wish
  • take a notebook so you can jot down what's said at the meeting
  • bring any evidence of the bullying that you have with you such as text messages, a record of incidents or
  • screenshots of webpages (if the bullying is happening online)
  • tell them what effect the bullying is having on your child, and make it clear you won't tolerate the bullying
  • 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 will take making sure that all parties are in agreement.

After your meeting, arrange to speak to them again in the near future 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) but it’s best to speak to the school first.

If things don’t improve, please see our advice below.

If the bullying continues or you are not happy with the school or club’s response:

  • write a letter of complaint to the head teacher or club organiser and arrange to meet with them to discuss the concerns
  • continue to keep a record of incidents with as much information as you can including:
    • photographs of any physical injuries or damaged items
    • the date, location and approximate time of each incident
    • any contact (letters, emails etc) you have with the school or club.

If your child goes to a Maintained/State school

First write to the chair of governors at the school address:

  • the school office will be able to provide you with the chair’s name
  • explain the situation and include copies of letters between yourself and the school as well as any evidence of the bullying.

If this situation continues:

  • a formal complaint can be made 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 are 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 a Private school

First write to the chair of governors at the school address:

  • the school office will be able to provide you with the chair’s name
  • explain the situation and include copies of letters between yourself and the school as well as any evidence of the bullying.

If this situation continues:

  • a complaint can be made to the Department for Education who will consider reports of a major failure to ensure a child’s safety.

You can find more information about the role and responsibility of schools to tackle bullying.

What to do if your child has been bullying others

You may feel disappointed or horrified if you find out that your child has been bullying others. But try to keep calm and take some time to consider what you'll do.

Children may not realise that what they're doing is bullying. If they've been making offensive or unkind comments online they might not understand how much that could hurt someone.

  1. Calmly explain that what they're doing is unacceptable

  2. Help them understand how what they've done feels - you could ask them how they think the other child felt, or ask them how they felt when someone said something unkind to them

  3. Explain what you will do next, such as telling your child's school, and what you expect them to do

  4. Ask them whether they have any questions about why their actions need to change.

The BBC interactive website iWonder – Am I a bully? helps children understand how to spot bullying, why people bully, how it makes others feel and what to do if they think they or a friend may be bullying others.

Tips for preventing bullying in schools

Group of primary school children

All schools have a duty to provide a safe environment for children and young people. This includes protecting them from bullying and responding quickly and appropriately when concerns arise.

These tips will help you ensure your school is helping to prevent bullying.

 

An anti-bullying policy should:

  • include a definition of bullying in all its forms be it physical, verbal or cyberbullying. See our page on What are bullying and cyberbullying for help
  • state what action will be taken by staff if bullying is reported or suspected
  • be reviewed and updated regularly.

You may want to produce a child-friendly version for pupils.

Our free Safeguarding in Education Self-Assessment Tool (ESAT) for schools in England can help you to audit your school’s current safeguarding arrangements. It includes guidance on what to include in an anti-bullying policy and an example of a policy written by children.

You need to communicate a strong message that bullying will not be tolerated in your school.

Children and young people should feel confident they can approach any member of staff if they are being bullied and know that it will be taken seriously, acted upon and followed up.

Staff should be trained to gain a good understanding of what constitutes bullying and be clear on what action to take if a child comes to them for help or if they witness bullying. Contact your Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) for training oppourtunities or see the training offered by Kidscape or the Anti-Bullying Alliance.

Personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) or sex and relationship education (SRE) lessons and school assemblies are a good way of helping children and young people understand the seriousness of bullying and the impact it has on the victim.

Our free Safeguarding in Education Self-Assessment Tool (ESAT) for schools in England includes includes a sample assembly for primary schools.

Anti-Bullying Week is a good oppourtunity to raise awareness and re-inforce your school's rules around bullying. The Anti-Bullying Alliance have a range of teaching resources to support school activities for this year's Make a Noise about bullying campaign.

Posters reinforcing anti-bullying messages and advertising sources of help and advice such as ChildLine can be displayed around the school as a reminder that help is there if needed.

Childline posters and wallet cards

Our series of posters and wallet cards encourage children to contact Childline if they need to talk.
Find out more

Schools should keep records of bullying incidents. 

Record information about individuals or groups, types of bullying, places and times.

Anaylse your records to identify patterns and use this information to update your polices and procedures.

Our free Safeguarding in Education Self-Assessment Tool (ESAT) includes a sample bullying report form and a pupil bullying questionnaire to help you gather information about incidents of bullying.

Resources for schools and teachers

Find anti-bullying resources for your school

Browse resources to help you and your school tackle bullying and cyberbullying in the UK's only library dedicated to child protection.

Search for anti-bullying resources

Helping schools protect children from abuse and neglect

Learn more about the information, advice and training we offer to help schools keep children safe from abuse.
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For teachers

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Further help and advice

Bullying UK

Bullying UK provides free, confidential advice for parents and schools on bullying, how to spot the signs and how it can be prevented and reported. They also advise parents on the action to take if they are unhappy with the school’s response and provide templates for letters of complaint.

Kidscape

Kidscape support young people, parents and professionals to tackle bullying across the UK.
They provide a free one day workshop, ZAP, for children and young people aged 9-16 who have experienced bullying which their parents can attend as well.

The Cybersmile Foundation

The Cybersmile Foundation work to stop cyber-bullying by supporting those that have been bullied online and changing the behaviour of those who bully. Their online Help Centre provides free advice for parents and children.

Get Connected

Get Connected provides confidential advice to young people under the age of 25 who need help but are not sure where to turn. As well as having a searchable directory of support services on their website they can also be contacted for free by phone, email, webchat or via their app.

Respect me

Respect me is Scotland’s anti-bullying service that provides advice and support for adults and young people including a practical checklist for parents on what to do if their child is being bullied.

Worried about a child?

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Help staying safe on apps, games and websites

From Facebook and Instagram to Snapchat and Tumblr, Net Aware is a simple guide to the most popular social networks, apps and games

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Keeping your child safe online

Helpful advice and tools you can use to help keep your child safe whenever and wherever they go online.

Online safety advice

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Help and advice for professionals

Library catalogue

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Our research and resources on bullying and cyberbullying

Read our research reports, briefings and leaflets about bullying and cyberbullying.

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Safeguarding children

What organisations and groups that work with or come into contact with children should do to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm.
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Legislation, policy and guidance

Legislation, policy and guidance about bullying and cyberbullying
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