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Bullying #3

Jo Earl —

My child has seen bullying. What should I do?

Your child may know someone who is being bullied or has seen it happening at school. 

Witnessing bullying can be distressing.There are different roles children play when witnessing bullying: They can include:

- Followers (kids who assist): These children may not start or lead the bullying, but may encourage or join in.

- Supporters (kids who reinforce): These children are not directly involved, but they provide an audience. They may laugh or support the children who are bullying. This may encourage the bullying to continue.

- Outsiders: These children remain separate from the bullying situation. They neither reinforce the bullying behaviour nor defend the child being bullied. Some may watch, but do not show they are on anyone’s side. These children often want to help, but don’t know how.

- Defenders: These children actively comfort the child being bullied and may come to the child’s defence when bullying occurs. A child who witnesses or knows bullying is occurring needs support. Let your child know that you take the bullying seriously.

What can you do?

Many bystanders to bullying feel anxious and distressed about seeing something they think is wrong. Students can also feel upset about not knowing what to do. 

Talk about how to be a supportive bystander: If they feel safe to do so, your child could: 

- Walk away and tell a teacher right away. 

- Tell the person who is bullying they will get a teacher if they don’t stop. 

- Encourage their friends to walk away or tell the person to stop. 

- Tell the person bullying they don’t think what they are doing is right or funny. 

- Help the person who is being bullied to get away and go somewhere safe. 

If they don’t think it’s safe to say anything, there are other things they could do: 

- Tell the person being bullied that it’s not okay and they didn’t do anything wrong. 

- Ask the person being bullied if they want help to get it stopped. - Tell a school staff member about it. 

- Try to make sure their friend is not alone when they might get bullied. 

- Ask the person who is being bullied to join their group or game. 

- Walk away – people who bully like others to watch. 

It can be helpful to practise these approaches at home to help your child feel more confident.