Handling issues at school

  • School is a place where young people learn about relating to others and coping with life situations. Many children and young people managing a health condition report that bullying and teasing at school is a common occurrence. It is important to work closely with your child’s school to support their wellbeing and help your child develop resilience.

    Support at school

    Your child needs a supportive environment at school. The school can help by:

    • promoting respect and safety
    • providing learning programs which engage all students
    • improving school attendance
    • practising inclusive teaching and learning
    • encouraging supportive relationships
    • involving parents, families and community
    • easing transitions.

    Talk with your child and the school

    Keep up the two-way conversation with your child about school, and the school about your child. If you notice any changes in behaviour, ask your child about what might be bothering them. Contact the school if you’re concerned about your child’s behaviour or how they’re talking about school.

    In this short video, parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder talk about the importance of good two-way communication with their child’s high school.

    Take bullying seriously

    Schools take bullying very seriously. Bullying is harmful but also preventable. It can take many forms, including direct physical or verbal bullying or indirect bullying. All schools will have policies and guidelines for the prevention and management of bullying.

    Whether they’re being bullied, a bystander, or are bullying others, all students can play a role in preventing or responding to the situation.

    In this short video, parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder talk about bullying.

    Keep your eye on cyber-bullying

    The internet and other digital technologies are an important part of your child’s life. But these environments are also places where children experience bullying. Cyber-bullying is a term that’s used to describe the use of technology, such as mobile phones or the internet, to create, display or send information or images that harm or harass another person.

    Listen to your child

    Finding out that your child is being bullied or that your child is bullying others is very stressful and upsetting. You could feel anger, confusion and guilt. Listen carefully to your child, show concern and offer your support.

    Approach the school

    Work with your child’s school to solve the problem. Contact them and make an appointment to discuss the issue. Don’t directly approach any other student or their family about your concerns about bullying.

    Find the right person

    As well as your child’s teacher or principal, schools have other staff who provide support. They can work with other welfare professionals and agencies.

    People who can help include:

    • student welfare coordinators
    • guidance officers
    • social workers.

    You could also speak to your doctor, community health centre or local youth centre for help and advice.

    Know the policies

    Student safety and wellbeing is the responsibility of the whole school community. All schools must have a Student Engagement Policy that includes specific strategies to:

    • promote positive student behaviour
    • build a safe and inclusive environment 
    • prevent bullying and antisocial behaviour
    • encourage respect, compassion and cooperation.

    Raise your concerns

    As the first step, talk your child’s classroom teacher, year-level coordinator or home-room teacher when you want to raise a concern or complaint. Call them directly or organise a meeting through the school office. The school should take your concerns seriously and work with you to resolve any issues.

    Animation for young people

    but what if they laugh plus play button

    More information

    • Rights of the child under our Education Professionals section has lots of information about how education providers can protect the right to education for children and young people. 
    • Student wellbeing is a good starting point for locating information and resources collected by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD).
    • Support in schools has advice on the key people who can help within the school environment, including student support service officers, primary welfare officers and student welfare coordinators.
    • Building Respectful and Safe Schools is a resource that will help all members of the school community work together to provide a respectful and safe school and broader community.
    • Bullying and unacceptable behaviour defines and describes bullying, discrimination and harassment.  
    • Advice for parents is a factsheet with tips and strategies about handling bullying and unacceptable behaviour in a range of languages.
    • Cyberbullying has information about what schools are doing to protect the safety of their students in the online environment.
    • Parent complaints has information to help parents and families who are thinking about raising a concern or registering a complaint about their child’s education.
    • Bullying. No way! is a website developed by Australian education authorities to encourage safe and supportive school communities.
    • The National Centre Against Bullying works to create safe schools and communities.
    • The Alannah and Madeleine Foundation runs the Better Buddies Program, an anti bullying initiative for schools. 
    • The Friendly Schools & Families Program offers practical guidance, strategies and tools to help schools and families tackle bullying.
    • Headspace has lots of useful advice, stories and support information from Australia’s National Mental Health Foundation.  
    • Inyahead is a website developed by clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller who works with many schools and communities in Australia, specialising in the wellbeing of young people and their families.