What is bullying?

  • Bullying is not the same as teasing, or an isolated mean comment/action
  • Bullying is deliberately hostile behaviour designed to embarrass, ridicule, isolate or hurt
  • Bullying often persists over a period of time
  • Bullying is serious and must be addressed
  • Bullying damages self esteem and in extreme circumstances can cause a person to end their life

Types of bullying

  • Physical (pushing, hitting, pinching, taking personal items, etc)
  • Verbal (name calling, making threats, racial slurs, homophobic remarks, etc)
  • Social This is often done by a group of bullies ( excluding someone, isolating them, starting hurtful rumours, ignoring, laughing at them, etc)
  • Cyber (using digital technology, eg phones, social media, to do all of the above). This type of bullying can be relentless because the bullies can text, ring or post harmful remarks about the person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Signs your child may be bullied

  • Physical signs such as bruising, scratches which are not easily explained by your child, lost or broken possessions
  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Feeling sick in the mornings or spending unusual amounts of time in the school sick bay
  • Expressing feelings such as having no friends, not being liked, hopelessness, anger
  • Your child seems withdrawn, tearful or anxious
  • Sudden changes in behaviour
  • Disrupted sleep, bedwetting
  • Decreased academic achievement at school
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities

What you can do

  • Spend time every day talking with your child about their day and really listening to what is being said or not said
    Reassure your child that it is okay to tell you if they are being bullied
  • Believe your child if they tell you they are being bullied and take action to address it
  • Be aware your child may not give you direct answers when questioned because they are afraid
  • Discuss strategies with your child to respond to bullying in the future (ignore hurtful comments, tell the bully to stop, walk away, avoid being alone or around the bullies, tell an adult what is happening)
  • Discuss your concerns with the school and ensure the school has a plan to deal with the situation. Schools have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for all children.
  • Keep a record of incidents (time, date, what happened, who was involved) so you can take this to the school
  • Support your child to develop friendships as social isolation makes it more likely for children to be bullied
  • Ask the school to buddy your child with a supportive peer
  • Have a designated “safe space” for your child to go to if being bullied (eg school library)
  • If the school does not currently have an anti-bullying program in place, ask about how this can be started, and offer to help if possible
  • Consider self defence, martial arts or self esteem classes for your child to develop confidence and skills in dealing with bullies
  • Seek counselling for your child if appropriate

Further information

  • Kia Kaha programme, run by NZ Police
  • Really great resource on Bullying
Carolyn Jury (BAppSocSci, Counselling)
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