Reacting to Your Child Being Bullied

If you believe that your child is a victim of bullying, you are most probably experiencing two reactions. Firstly, outrage, coupled with other emotions such as confusion and guilt. Secondly, this may raise memories of your own experiences with bullying – either as being bullied, as the bully or as a bystander.

It is absolutely natural if you are experiencing these memories and feelings. However, it is better to acknowledge them and use them to your benefit, rather then letting your feelings filter through onto your child and their need for support. If your reaction is to seek justice for your child, you are not alone.

However you need to think about what this will accomplish… not really much at all!


  • Storm into school demanding action
  • Confront the child/children who are bulling your child
  • Confront the child/children’s parents who are bulling your child

These actions will not change your child’s situation. Instead it will take attention away from the problem and place the attention onto you. It may also fuel the situation further. You may be seen as aggressive and you may be banned from the school premises. In the worst case scenario the school may feel the need to contact the police.

Understanding the School’s Response – Only you as the parent can determine whether the school responses are satisfactory.

The following questions can help to evaluate whether the school is being proactive against bullying towards your child.

  • Did the school take your issues seriously?
  • Was some investigation carried out?
  • Are there any strategies being put into action to help reduce the incidents of bullying for your child?
  • Is there a school bullying policy which outlines boundaries etc?
  • Does the school wish to talk to you in the near future or at least maintain an open line of communication?

Lee (2004) has developed an overview for parents to determine at what stage schools have developed in relation to anti-bullying policies. School responses about bullying and any policies they have in place may be able to be classified into one or a combination of the following 4 stages:

Stage 1 Denial

  • There is a policy somewhere, written by someone, sometime ago
  • Bullying is not a problem in this school, but is viewed as a natural part of the growing process
  • Little can or should be done about it
  • If it were to be a concern for us it is important that we keep the issue ‘in house’
  • Being open about our anti-bullying approach would imply it is a problem and could be bad publicity for the school

Stage 2 Token

  • There is a policy, written by a nominated person following a professional development day
  • It is occasionally waved in front of parents and inspectors
  • Few people know what is says, but many rest secure that bullying has been discussed
  • One ‘expert’ is identified as dealing with the issue and they were the creative force behind the written policy

Stage 3 Moving

  • The issue is taken seriously and there is a regular review of the policy which incorporates advice and support for pupils, parents and staff
  • Staff share effective practice and materials that they have found useful
  • Preventative practices are in place
  • Ways of dealing with it that are known by adults and pupils in the school

Stage 4 Motoring

  • The school has clear policy and practices that all know, helped to create and feel ownership of
  • It self-monitors by gathering data about the experience of key players, including parents. All acknowledge that there is bullying beyond the school, nonetheless, staff and pupils combat it in school by constantly adapting, revisiting and experimenting
  • There is recognition of the importance of involving a wider community and of the value of sharing effective practice with parents and other significant parties
  • Preventing bullying forms part of a programme that focuses on involving and empowering  pupils in playing a positive role in school and making wise choices throughout their lives
  • Pupils are supported in developing strategies that not only provide personal protection, but also develop positive peer relationships
  • Preventing bullying is synonymous with promoting an ethos in which all pupils who attend the school value and respect each other