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What is bullying?

Being bullied can make your child feel alone, worthless, angry or sad. As a parent it can make you feel angry or sad that you haven’t been able to protect your child or young person.

Bullying can be done by anyone - family, friends, school mates, work colleagues or strangers. It can happen anywhere - in a school, workplace, home, social activities or online.

Experiencing bullying can make children and young people feel sad, that they are not clever enough, or good enough at things such as sport or making friends.

  • Bullying can take many forms including:

    • Being physically hurt (e.g. hitting, pushing, kicking or pinching) 
    • Things being damaged or stolen
    • Lies or rumours being spread
    • Threats
    • Cyberbullying (bullying that takes place online),  which can take may forms such as abusive messages or posting nasty information about a person online
    • Teasing or name calling 
    • Being left out or ignored 
    • Being made to do things.

    This video from the Anti-Bullying Alliance explains what bullying is in under a minute

  • Why do people bully?

    Bullies need a target. They often feel bad about themselves and use bullying as a way to cover up their own unhappiness or protect themselves from others making them feel bad.

    If your child or young person is bullied it is not their fault or your fault. It’s because of a problem the bully has and how bad they are feeling.

    For some parents, learning your child is being bullied can bring back bad memories of your own experiences. If this is happening for you take care of yourself and talk to someone you trust.

    If you find out that your child has been involved in bullying someone else it is really important to stay calm and try to find out the facts.

    • Try not to feel too angry and upset – your child is still learning how their behaviour affects others. They will need help to understand how they have hurt someone
    • Get them to put themselves in the ‘other person’s shoes’ and think about how they feel
    • You can help them make a plan to ‘put things right’ this might include a face to face apology or writing a letter
    • You can support any ‘consequences’ given by school
    • You might make some of your own; grounding young people, limiting access to technology; can give your child time to think over their actions.

    You also need to think about the roots of why your child has behaved like this.

    • Have there been a lot of changes or upset at home?
    • How do your family treat each other- are they picking up bullying behaviours in the home?
    • Does your child struggle to understand how others feel?
    • Is your child struggling with their own self worth?

  • Things to look out for if you are worried that your child is being bullied:

    - They may not want to go to school or they may not want to take part in particular lessons such as PE
    - Feeling unwell, tummy pains and headaches
    - Injuries or bruises
    - Changes in their mood such as becoming angry or withdrawing from friends and family
    - Changes in sleeping and eating habits
    - Damaged or lost clothes or belongings, such as pencil cases or PE kits
    - Appearing upset after using things like their mobile phone or tablet.

    These behaviours could have other causes, so it's important you talk to your child to find out what is going on for them.

    Often it helps to have a chat while you are doing something else like walking the dog or washing up together. This can help your child to feel more comfortable and able to talk. You could say that you have noticed a change and you were wondering if everything is okay with them.

    Be aware of your own emotions if they are being bullied. Take the child or young person's lead on how they want to deal with the bullying.

  • If your child tells you they are being bullied:

    • Listen and let them tell their story in their own way
    • Reassure them that talking to you was the right thing to do
    • Stay calm
    • Tell your child that it's not their fault that they are being bullied
    • Remind them that lots of people get bullied and the problem is about the bully
    • Agree with your child what you will do next and involve them in making this decision
    • Ask them to talk to someone they trust and to report every time they feel bullied
    • Keep a record of what is happening
    • Talk to your child’s school
    • Help your child find activities which help them feel better
    • Remind your child that fighting back is not the answer
    • Talk to them about keeping safe online.

    Breckland Youth Advisory Board have created this video which your child might find helpful if they are being bullied:

  • If your child or young person is school age then have a look at the school website to view their 'Anti Bullying Policy'. This will tell you what support or guidance may be available to you as a parent.   

    Have a look at Norfolk County Council's Anti-Bullying information if you need further support. 

  • Reading Well for young people

    Books about mental health for 13 to 18 year olds, with advice and information about issues like anxiety, stress and OCD, bullying and exams.

    All Shelf Help books can be reserved for free from any Norfolk library, or online by clicking here. The books are available to borrow for up to six weeks.


    Health Uncovered is a series of podcasts that aims to get young people in-tune with their health and wellbeing. The series is hosted by BBC Radio One presenter Cel Spellman and features young people and health professionals from our Norfolk Healthy Child Programme.

    Life isn't always easy - and young people across the country have been helping us explore the issues that they’re facing today. From online bullying to sexual health, body image to mental health. They've been asking the questions you want to hear answered, joined by the health professionals that help young people, like school nurses and mental health specialists, to provide solutions, support and understanding.

    Our service and young people have been particularly involved with episode 3 “me and my emotions” and episode 4 “are you ready?”

    Listen now!  The podcasts are free and you can listen via mobile devices, tablets and laptops.  Just search “Health Uncovered” in your favourite podcast app, like iTunes.

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team. 

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum. CLICK HERE

Just One Norfolk Community Forum

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