How to talk to your child’s school about bullying

Here are Parent Zone's ten tips for talking to teachers if your child is being picked on

If your child is being bullied, along with understandable emotions like anger, sorrow and maybe even revenge, you may initially feel powerless, particularly if the bullying is happening at school where you can’t be around to protect them.

Schools spend a huge amount of time ensuring the young people in their care are safe, but incidents of bullying can occur, despite teachers’ best efforts, while bullying that happens outside the school will often have a knock-on effect on how the child being bullied performs in class or acts towards their fellow pupils, staff, or both.

In any of these scenarios, it’s important to talk to the school about what your child has been going through. Here are some tips on how to do so:

  1. Ask your child for the details of the incident or incidents. Make a note of the date(s), location and exactly what happened. Was the intimidation physical? If it was verbal, make a note of what was said and who said it, as well as any witnesses to the bullying.
  2. Ask your child if they’ve already reported the incident to anyone at the school, such as a teacher or lunchtime assistant. If so, when – and how did that person deal with it?
  3. If the bullying involved online communication, keep the messages/emails/texts/images etc. We know this may be distressing for your child but it’s important to be able to illustrate what’s happened when talking to the school.
  4. State schools must have an anti-bullying policy. Other types of schools should have a set procedure for dealing with bullying incidents. It should be on the school website, but if it’s not, talk to the school office and ask them to send it to you.
  5. Depending on what’s laid out in the anti-bullying policy, you may be directed to speak to your child’s form teacher first. If your child is in secondary school, it may be their head of year or, if the bullying is taking place in one particular class, the relevant subject teacher. If it’s not specified, talk to your child about the best person to approach and choose someone they feel comfortable talking to.
  6. Ideally, request a face-to-face meeting, but if that isn’t practical, or if you feel you may get angry or upset, you can arrange to speak on the phone, write a letter or email the teacher with the details.
  7. When talking to the teacher, tell them what happened and any other information you feel is relevant. Children who bully can sometimes sense when someone is more vulnerable than usual because they have something else going on in their life at the time, such as a family bereavement, divorce etc. It’s important the teacher has all the facts, so your child can get the support they need.
  8. Ask the teacher to explain what will happen next. The ball is now in their court and most schools will have experience in dealing with similar incidents.
  9. Before leaving, organise a follow-up meeting or chat for a progress report. Suggest a date by when you will expect to get a response by.
  10. If you’ve already approached the school and the bullying is continuing, or you’re unhappy with how the teacher you spoke to has dealt with things, ask to speak to their line manager or write to the head teacher detailing your complaint and asking them how they intend to proceed. You can find useful templates from Bullying UK to adapt for different situations here.

Further reading:

Dealing with the school if your teen is being bullied: advice from Ditch the Label

Please note, the advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and is not necessarily the view of either Parent Zone or CEOP.

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