Bullying is a serious and distressing experience. It can have a huge impact on children's mental health and wellbeing.
Key points to remember about bullying
Listen to your child and take whatever they say seriously.
- bullying can have a serious impact on a child's emotional wellbeing
- listen to your child and take whatever they say seriously
- stay calm
- be clear of the facts and make notes about what happened and when it happened
- encourage your child by saying you are concerned and you want to help and support them
- reassure your child that the bullying is not their fault and they have a right to be safe
Why is bullying harmful?
Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for children to learn to stick up for themselves. But bullying has serious consequences - it can make children feel lonely, unhappy, frightened, unsafe and think that there must be something wrong with them.
Signs that might indicate your child is being bullied include tummy aches, nightmares, reluctance to go to school and loss of confidence. They may lose contact with friends and seem isolated.
What can I do if my child experiences bullying?
Talk with your child
Take whatever they say seriously and find out exactly what has been going on. Listen to your child and stay calm. Be clear of the facts and make notes about what happened and when it happened.
Children who experience bullying are often frightened to talk about what is happening. Be prepared for your child to deny that there is anything wrong.
Encourage your child by saying you are concerned and you want to help and support them. Reassure your child that the bullying is not their fault and they have a right to be safe. Let them know that talking takes courage and that they have done the right thing by talking about it.
Ask your child what they want to do about it and how you can help. Reassure them that you can work together to solve this problem. An important part of your response is to avoid jumping in to solve the problem. While it is natural to want to protect your child, a better option is to help them to find their own solution. This helps them feel they have some power in the situation.
Keep talking to your child about what's happening and encourage them to speak to an adult they trust. Tell them to keep on asking for help if the bullying doesn't stop. Regularly check in with your child to see how they are doing. Be prepared to step in if you feel the bullying is severe or ongoing.
Agree on a plan with your child
The most important thing is to let your child know how to get help if bullying happens.
Having a plan will help your child feel more comfortable, give them confidence and assure them you are taking the bullying seriously. Be mindful that they may not want you to make a fuss and put them in the spotlight.
Together, plan what your child will do if they get bullied again. The most important thing is to let your child know how to get help if bullying happens.
Encourage them to speak to an adult if it happens, and to keep on asking for help if the bullying doesn't stop. Check in regularly with your child to see how they are doing.
Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Education has a section for parents on bullying. See:
- what is bullying?
- what bullying behaviour might look like
- signs of bullying behaviour
- what to do if you think your child is involved in bullying
- if your child is initiating the bullying
- talking and working with your school or Kura
- can I lodge a complaint with the police?
Bullying-Free New Zealand
Bullying-Free New Zealand has information, research and resources to help schools and communities respond to bullying. The Bullying Prevention Advisory Group set up Bullying-Free New Zealand because we all need to work together to prevent bullying. See:
NetSafe provides cybersafety and online security education for all New Zealanders. NetSafe's website has information on online safety and security issues. The website has information for children, parents, community groups, schools and counsellors. See:
The Child Psychology Service
Skylight is a national organisation working to support children, young people and their families who have been affected by change, loss and grief. See: