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For parents

What to do if your child is a bully

Bullies can be anyone and any student can get caught up with friends who bully without realising the damage they are doing.

If you find out your child is bullying others talk to them and let them know bullying is wrong and unacceptable. Ask how they would feel if they were bullied.

Put them off joining in with friends who may be bullying and who think that bullying is OK. Encourage friendships with those who treat others well.

It may also be good to talk to your child’s teacher. When you and the school work together you are more likely to help your child.

Be a good example to your children and encourage and praise them when they play well and get it right. Teach them to say sorry when they do something wrong and encourage them to put things right.

What to do if your child is being bullied

Children who are being bullied may not want to talk about it. Sometimes victims can blame themselves and feel ashamed or embarrassed and do not want to tell anyone, especially their parents. That is why you might not know about any bullying until it has been happening for a while.

Children sometimes show signs they are being bullied. Such signs could include if your child:

  • Doesn’t want to go to school – comments like I want to leave or do I have to go
  • Appears unhappy at the end of weekends or holidays
  • Shows signs of having been involved in fights or complains of minor aches and pains
  • Books, money, lunch or belongings go missing
  • Constantly asks for money
  • Appears anxious, distressed or unhappy
  • May have tummy aches or nightmares

As a parent you have a vital role in helping your child deal with the bully. Every parent wants their child to have a good day and a positive experience at school.

You and your child can work together to make your child feel good about themselves and stop the bully. Some advice on what to do includes:

Get them talking

If your child can talk to you about this it is the first step to dealing with the problem. Tell them it is not their fault they are being bullied and reassure them that together you will be able to stop the bullying.

Ignore it

The first step is to tell your child to ignore the bully and walk away from name callers and bullies. Sometimes this is all it takes as once the bullying has no effect the offender will stop.

Talk to the bully

If ignoring the bully doesn’t work get your child to go up to the bully and say; “I have talked to my parents and they want you to stop doing this as I don’t like it.” Once the bully knows the parents are in the loop this will often stop them.

Play safe

Encourage your child to hang out with good friends who support them and encourage these friends to come and play. Tell your child to play where they feel safe. Students playing near the staffroom do not seem to get picked on.

Keep talking

Encourage your child to talk to a trusted adult when they are bullied. Assure your child that by talking to an adult about the bullying they are not ‘telling tales’.

Talk to the school

It may become necessary to talk to your child’s school about the problem. The school will want your child to feel safe and happy at school and may not be aware of the problem until you bring it up. Talk to the school about the steps you can take together to address the bullying. This may include talking to the bully’s parents.

Ask the school what they can do to help you resolve the problem. Most schools have an antibullying policy in place and often will resolve the issue very quickly.


Some students are scared to tell their parents about text or cyber bullying as they fear their parents may take their phone off them or not let them on the net. You need to assure your child that you can sort out the problem without doing this.

If your child is quieter than normal or is looking worried after reading texts or being online ask “Are you getting texts that are not nice or upsetting you,” or “Did something happen online that has made you upset.” It doesn’t hurt from time to time to bring up bullying around the dinner table. You can say you have been reading about text or cyber bullying in the paper and ask if your child gets any bullying messages.

If you child is receiving nasty or offensive texts phone their mobile network provider as soon as possible. Your provider can send a warning text to the harasser and can disconnect that phone if the bullying behaviour continues. They could also block the bully’s number from your child’s phone.

Any nasty online comments should be saved to show to the website. You can do that by taking a screenshot of the mean comments (press the button on your keyboard that says ‘PrtScn’ and then paste it into a word document) – also make sure you take note of the address of the abusive page. You can then make a complaint to the website (such as Bebo or MySpace).

For more assistance call Netsafe on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638723) or go to the website www.netsafe.org.nz . They will be happy to help. Remember, if your child is receiving violent or life threatening messages contact the police immediately.

Encourage your children to talk about bullying issues so together you can work through a solution.