In this section
Bullying is the targeted and repeated actions of a person or group of people who intend to cause harm or distress (physical or psychological) to someone who feels helpless to respond. Bullying often continues if no steps are taken to stop it. All forms of bullying can have
long-term effects on children involved, including bystanders.
Bullying behaviours can be grouped into four types:
Behaviours that are not considered to be bullying:
The way children deal with bullying behaviours can vary, which makes it difficult to know if your child is being bullied. However, you may see some changes in your child that can indicate they are being bullied.
Signs of cyberbullying:
In addition to the signs above, if bullying is happening online your child may show the following signs:
As a parent or carer, you have an important role to play in keeping your child healthy and safe, and this includes their mental health. Talking to children regularly about their friendships and relationships with other children is helpful, and you are more likely to know early on if your
child is being bullied.
You should have a conversation with your child at least once a school term about what they can do if they are bullied or what they can do if they see someone being bullied.
Many children have their own social media accounts, and most have access to a mobile or other electronic device they can use to communicate with friends online. It’s a good idea to have regular conversations with your child about privacy, protecting passwords and image sharing.
If you are concerned that your child is being bullied, the first step is to talk to your child - ask questions and listen to what they say. Encourage your child to tell you what they are experiencing and try to find out as much as you can about what is happening.
Ask your child what they would like you to do to help, and give them some guidance about ways they can try to stop the bullying.
Practice some strategies at home with your child so they feel prepared and confident to try them the next time the bullying behaviour happens. Talk about how your child can act so that the bully doesn’t get the reaction they’re after.
Sometimes, parents or carers want to confront the bully themselves and take matters in to their own hands. Other parents or carers may think that their child can work it out for themselves. These actions can actually aggravate bullying situations, making the child more likely to
experience bullying behaviour.
Seek help from your child’s school early. Bullying is best tackled and prevented when children, parents and schools all work together. You can start by speaking to the classroom teacher, wellbeing coordinator or assistant/deputy principal.
Contact the school and speak to your child’s teacher. Ask if they are aware of the bullying and work with them to support your child.
Talk to the school about how best to support your child to keep attending. Discuss ways to make sure your child is safe at school and can seek help easily from a teacher if needed.
All schools should have a bullying policy, which you should be able to access on the school website. The bullying policy may outline the school’s preferred ways to deal with bullying incidents and provide advice on how the school can help you and your child. You can get an idea of how the
school will deal with your child’s bullying situation and how it may escalate if needed.
If speaking with staff at the school has not helped and the bullying is ongoing, it may be helpful to seek additional advice and support elsewhere. Options for extra help include your GP or a counsellor, who can help you to liaise with your school. The Education Department in your State or Territory can also
help you. If the bullying is happening online, you can contact the eSafety Commissioner’s office via their website.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Community Information. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Developed June 2018.
Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.