FOLLOWING the recent spate of news coverage about bullying in schools, parents, carers and grandparents may be keen to know more about what they can do to keep their child safe.

Here is some advice on action you can take if you are worried about bullying:

1.Talk to your child about bullying: bullying is any behaviour that is repeated, intended to hurt and where it is hard for the person on the receiving end to defend themselves. It can happen face to face or online. Children can be bullied, bully others, or be witness to bullying behaviour. Media stories can be a good way of raising the subject with your child in a way that feels more relaxed.

2. Know your rights: All schools have a legal duty to keep children safe and to prevent bullying and harassment. Most schools will have a stand alone anti-bullying policy, or will reference bullying in the behaviour policy. By law they must provide you with a copy.

3. Take bullying seriously. Bullying is a child protection issue and the impact of bullying on physical and mental health can be long lasting. Some bullying behaviour such as physical or sexual assault, harassment and threats to harm may even be criminal.

4. Don’t encourage your child to retaliate. While it is vital that children are supported to be assertive and to handle conflict, it is not fair or safe to encourage a child to ‘hit back’. Kidscape runs free ZAP workshops for 9-16 year olds that teach vital skills in managing bullying and aggression.

5. Talk to the school. It’s important that you share with the school what is happening as soon as possible.

6. Document everything. Keep a log of bullying incidents, keep a record of any contact with the school and any agreed action points.

7. Take further action where necessary. Every school will have a complaints policy. If you have followed the complaints process and the bullying still hasn’t stopped, seek further support (e.g. Department for Education if in England, your local MP).

8. Get help. We work with families every day that are going through a bullying situation. We know it is deeply upsetting but there is hope. Kidscape is the UK’s longest running anti-bullying charity and is here to help children and families. Please visit our website for further advice, or contact our Parent Advice Line.

Lauren Seager-Smith

CEO, Kidscape