ONE of the most difficult things to deal with as a parent is your child being bullied at school.
But luckily there are hundreds of organisations out there which are able to offer advice and support - to both parents and children - as they navigate the troubled waters.
Firstly, how do you know as a parent whether or not your child is being bullied?
According to the experts at Family Lives, there are some specific signs to look out for.
These can be split into three different sections - emotional, physical and changes at school.
Emotional signs of bullying
- The child isolating themselves and not talking to the family
- Feeling withdrawn and spending more time alone
- Changes in eating habits
- Changes in behaviour such as seeming more angry than usual
- Avoiding social media
- Not seeing their friends after school or at weekends
- Anxiety and nervousness that wasn’t evident previously
Physical signs of bullying
- The child may have bruises, cuts and marks on their body that cannot be explained
- Issues with their sleep
- Complaining of headaches or stomach aches
Changes at school
- The child suddenly starts doing badly at school
- They become anxious about going to school and say they are feeling unwell more than usual
- Items are stolen that cannot be easily explained
- Missing money that could have been stolen
- Damaged possessions such as bags, uniforms, etc.
- Not taking part in after school clubs
And once you've determined if your child is being bullied, how should you go about dealing with it?
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According to the National Bullying Helpline, there are five steps to follow if you are worried your child is being bullied.
- Ask your child to write down in handwriting (not on a computer) what has happened and how they feel. Ask them to sign and date it.
- Speak to the school. They have a "statutory duty" to ensure all children in their schools are safe at all times. And if the school doesn't take steps to stop the bullying, you can speak to your local authority. The National Bullying Helpline has template letters to send to both the school or local authority on their website.
- If your child has been physically assaulted, make an appointment with your family GP and alert both the police and the school. Make a note of the Crime Number you are given by the police and quote it on all correspondence to the school.
- Call The National Bullying Helpline for a free consultation on 0300 323 0169. "We talk to worried parents every day about their children and how to stop a bullying problem at school or online," they said. "We can help you deal with just about any situation related to bullying, from a child that's too scared to report bullying to their school to helping you deal with a school that's reluctant to act on your bullying concerns."
- The final step is to make sure your child knows the number for Childline - 0800 1111.