Bullying can be defined as:
A deliberately hurtful act by an individual or group, usually repeated over a period of time. It often involves an abuse of power or use of intimidation and can affect an individual or a group.
Bullying behaviour includes:
- emotional (e.g. ignoring, tormenting by hiding books, being cut out of social groups).
- physical (e.g. pushing, kicking and threats).
- racist (e.g. name calling, discrimination).
- sexual (e.g. unwanted physical contact, abusive comments).
- verbal (e.g. name calling, persistent teasing, sarcasm, threats).
- homophobic bullying (e.g. inappropriate comments about someone's sexuality).
It also includes abusive texts, emails or hurtful comments or posts on websites especially social media such as Facebook, this is known as cyber bullying. The important fact to remember is that bullying is not a one off incident such as a fight or when two equals have a fight or quarrel.
Being a bully or being bullied can happen to anyone of any age. Bullying is often secretive and hidden and staff may not know it is happening. If you think your child is being bullied it is important to talk to the staff in that setting as soon as possible.
How schools respond
Schools and settings are keen to address bullying matters swiftly and take steps, with you, to sort it out. All schools must have an anti-bullying policy which they share with parents and carers. Many schools have peer mentoring or buddying schemes to help pupils will all kinds of problems. Bullying is always taken very seriously.
If you are worried your child is being bullied, ask them about it directly. Children who are being bullied may be frightened to admit anything is wrong so be prepared for this.
If the bullying is happening in school make contact with the school straight away. Start with your child’s class or form teacher, or head of year. Experience tells us that the best way to resolve issues is to work in partnership with the school. However if you are not happy with the outcome, all schools will have a complaints procedure.
What we're doing to tackle bullying in Suffolk
Suffolk County Council along with partners in school and health have agreed a plan on how to tackle bullying; the strategy is entitled Stand Out Against Bullying.
Download - Stand Out Against Bullying - Suffolk Children's Trust Anti-Bullying Strategy (pdf 1.4MB)
Page 11 of the strategy lists several organisations which you may find helpful.
Advice to help you and your child deal with bullying
Parent Partnership Service - for local support you call their helpline 01473 265210 (office hours)
Bullying UK - this website has specific sections for parents/carers and young people; you can also get direct expert advice by email, webchat or through the helpline service
Childline - free and confidential helpline for children and young adults in the UK