1. Establish that bullying is taking place
- Watch closely for the warning signs to establish if your child is being bullied.
- Communicate constantly with your child – show an interest in finding out about their school life by asking what they did at school that day or week, how they felt about it, who they spent break time with, how they are getting on with friends and others, who they have fallen out with and why.
- Show concern and willingness to help your child while providing opportunities for them to talk to you about their worries. It may take time but if you send a clear message that bullying is unacceptable and does not have to continue, your child should feel comfortable enough to tell you what is going on. And you must always act even if your child wants you to do nothing.
2. Provide support at home
- Show unconditional love and acceptance and provide reassurance by telling your child that: bullying can happen to anyone; it is not their fault; there is nothing wrong with them; they should not believe what the bully says; they do not have to face this on their own; and that bullying should not happen and nobody should be expected to put up with it.
- Explain that people who bully do it to make themselves feel better because they are unhappy at home or school. Impress upon the child that the bully has the problem; not them.
- Stay calm and avoid over-reacting or indeed under-reacting – take the bullying seriously and take steps to support and protect your child at the earliest possible opportunity.
- Don’t give in to denial – sometimes adults still consider bullying as a part of growing up (maybe they were told this as children themselves) or find it easier to ignore the issue than to deal with it; they can feel a sense of failure, shame or powerlessness if their child is bullied and think they are alone with the problem, not knowing who to turn to and not wanting to approach the school for fear of “making a fuss”.
- You may need to report the incident to the Gardaí, especially if the bullying occurred outside the school grounds, otherwise the school principal may report it as a matter of policy.
- Empower your child by sharing the tips on how to deal with bullying as well as developing some assertiveness techniques with them. You could also ask an older pupil to keep a quiet eye on your child.
- As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure and there is a whole range of things you can do as a parent to lessen the possibility of your child being a victim to bullying. See these preventative measures.
3. Get help from the school
- Be involved with your child’s school and talk to other parents.
- Contact the school where there is a clear case of your child being bullied or you strongly suspect it.