Bullying is wrong and every child has the right to enjoy school free from bullying.
This guide is to help you understand more about what bullying is, what you can do if your child is being bullied, and who can help you.
The school's responsibility
Research shows that young disabled people and those with special educational needs are, disproportionately, more likely than their peers to experience bullying.
All schools are required by law to have a behaviour policy with measures to tackle bullying among pupils. Schools are free to develop their own anti-bullying strategies, but they are held clearly to account for their effectiveness through Ofsted.
School staff should support all pupils who are bullied and develop strategies to prevent bullying from happening. To help schools support pupils who are severely affected by bullying, the government has strengthened teachers' powers to tackle poor behaviour and bullying through the Education Act 2011.
The DfE has also updated its advice to schools so that it is shorter and more accessible. It brings together in one place information about schools’ responsibilities both to support children who are bullied and to make appropriate provision for a child’s needs.
The advice, Preventing and tackling bullying, is available at www.gov.uk/government/ publications/preventing-and-tacklingbullying
When your child asks, “Why me?”
Being bullied at school is something that happens to a lot of children. So if it’s happening to your child, he or she is not alone.
Sometimes children who bully pick on other children because they think they’re a bit different or because they like different things.
Children who bully may pick on disabled children because it’s easier to bully those who have difficulty either speaking up for or physically defending themselves.
They tend to pick on children whom they see as being weaker than they are. They might even do it because bullying others makes them feel better about themselves.
Bullying can take many different forms, such as being called horrible names, being physically hurt or being excluded from things. It can also take the form of nasty text messages, emails or social media messages (this is called cyberbullying).
This can be very upsetting for the child being bullied.
There may be times when a child who bullies might tease a disabled child because they don’t understand what it’s like to have a disability. They might feel awkward and unintentionally leave them out of things. They might tease in a jokey way, thinking they are being funny, and not realise what they’ve said has been insensitive and unkind. If the teasing makes the person feel uncomfortable and unhappy, or if it happens a lot and it’s obvious they’re not enjoying it, this is more likely bullying rather than light-hearted teasing.
It’s important to remember that being bullied because you have a disability is 100 percent wrong and unacceptable. It is not your fault, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. The fact is children who bully don’t realise that bullying is actually a sign of weakness. Standing up against bullying shows a person has real courage and inner strength.
My child is being bullied – what can I do?
If your child is being bullied, he or she is probably going through a whole range of emotions right now. They may feel upset, angry, scared, ashamed, lonely and confused. It is completely understandable to feel this way. Here are some things you could tell your child to do.
Tell them to stop and then ignore them
If a child is bullying you, tell them calmly, ‘Stop bullying me. It’s not nice and I don’t like it.’ If they don’t stop, then ignore them. Children who bully do it because they like to make other children angry and upset. If a child is bullying you, try to move away and stay calm.
Keep a diary of what is happening
If the same people keep bullying you, and over a long period of time, keep a diary of what is happening to you. Write down what they said and did, when and where they did it. This will help to show evidence of what is happening to you and that it’s serious.
If you’re experiencing cyberbullying on your phone or computer; keep the texts, emails and screenshots of messages as evidence. You can block accounts on social media, and on some mobile phones too, so they won’t be able to send you any more messages. The Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying campaign has a useful website on how to stay safe online: www.antibullyingpro.com
Tell an adult
Speak to your parents, carer or another adult you trust about what is happening to you and how it makes you feel. Show them your diary of evidence and any copies of text messages or social media messages they’ve sent you. Children who bully think you won’t tell anyone, so don’t let them get away with it – tell someone what is happening to you and as soon as you can.
Tell your school
Schools take bullying very seriously. All state schools should have an anti-bullying policy that says what they will do to prevent and tackle bullying and how they will support you. Some schools also have a 'buddy' system and anti-bullying ambassadors.
Tell a friend
If you don’t feel ready to speak to an adult or to your school just yet, tell a friend about what’s happening to you. Ask if they can support you by joining you at break-time or by coming with you to tell a teacher.
Tell an anti-bullying charity
If you don’t feel able to speak to someone in real life about it, there are organisations out there that can support you. Their names and contact details are listed below.
Don’t let it get you down
Children who bully enjoy making others feel scared and upset. Try not to let it get you down or stop you from doing things you enjoy. Keep studying and doing your best in school, because good grades are something that bullies can never take away from you. Take up a hobby like Powerchair football, or join a group like the Scouts or Girl Guides. Stick with your friends who you trust and are supportive. If your friends don’t stick up for you or they become ‘frenemies’, seek out better friends who won’t make you feel rubbish – you deserve better.
Remember – children who bully do it because they think you won’t tell anyone and that they will get away with it. So telling someone you are being bullied is a really brave thing to do.
- lots of children experience teasing and bullying
- bullying can happen to anyone, for any reason
- being bullied is not your fault
- it is your right to enjoy school free from bullying
- keep a diary of what is happening, as evidence
- when bullying happens, move away from the situation and keep calm
- if you’re being cyberbullied, don’t reply to the messages but keep a copy of them
- tell someone as soon as you can that you’re being bullied – don’t suffer in silence
- bullying someone isn’t brave – but taking a stand against bullying is!
Organisations that can help you
- ChildLine has a helpline for children. You can ring them on 0800 1111 or visit their website www.childline.org.uk
- The Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying campaign has some helpful information about how to deal with bullying. They also train young people to become AntiBullying Ambassadors in school www.antibullyingpro.com
Did you know?
Bullying can happen to anyone. Famous people who were bullied at school include pop singer and actress Demi Lovato, Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, singer Rihanna, Olympic diver Tom Daley, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, Paralympian Sarah Storey, and singer Taylor Swift!