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Bullying at primary school

primary bullyingAny child can be bullied but it could be more likely if your child is seen or appears as different in some way or is seen as an easy target. This may be because of gender, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, culture, disability, appearance, home life or because they are shy or timid.

In most cases, bullying goes beyond playground banter, and isn’t simply a case of falling out with friends. It is a repeated behaviour that intends to hurt someone physically or emotionally. Bullying can happen at school, home and online and can leave children feeling scared, embarrassed or ashamed. Bullying can have a long-term effect upon your child into their adult life.

Bullying is a safeguarding issue and should be taken seriously by your child’s school.

How to spot if your child is being bullied

  • Your child starts ‘losing’ things.
  • Your child develops unexplained bruising.
  • They have a fear of attending school, or might feel unwell in the mornings with head or stomach aches.
  • They stop doing so well at school or lose friends.
  • They display bullying behaviour towards others.

What to do if you think your child is being bullied

It’s important to stay calm. Keep listening to your child, take what they say seriously, to help validate their feelings and increase their confidence, allowing them to tell you more. You can also:

  • Explain what bullying is to your child.
  • Talk to your child’s school about what is happening and ask them to identify a trusted adult that your child can speak to in school.
  • Talk to your child about the different strategies for dealing with bullying behaviour. Don’t suggest they retaliate with similar behaviour.
  • Look for activities that will increase their confidence and friendship group, within or away from school.
  • Visit our school anxiety page for more support for your child if they are struggling to attend school.

What if you suspect your child is a bully?

This can be an upsetting situation, but remember that your child isn’t bullying because they are a ‘bad child’. Many behaviours your child displays won’t be a true reflection of who they are. They are still working out relationships, hierarchy and assertiveness. There are many reasons why your child might bully another, including:

  • Getting bullied themselves, in or outside school.
  • Struggling with feelings of anxiety, self-worth or confidence.
  • Wanting to fit in with a group of friends who are bullies.
  • Looking for attention from teachers, parents or peers.

What can you do?

Be patient and understanding. Talk to your child to understand what is happening and why. They may not fully understand the impact their behaviour has on other children. Encourage them to look at things from the other person’s point of view to help increase their general understanding. Stories can be useful at times like this.

Think about what’s happening at home: is there a lot of arguing going on, any name-calling or hitting? If so, try to get back to having a positive home environment where everyone treats each other with kindness and respect.

If you use punishments, make them time limited and relevant. Help your child ‘put things right’ with the other child or children. Understand that their behaviour may take a little time to change.

Work with your child’s school and talk to their teacher about what's going on. If your child is a natural leader or assertive, look for a club that they might enjoy where they can learn more about being a leader or coaching others.

Families who might need further support

Any child can be bullied but if you’re worried your child could be targeted, help prepare them by teaching them about bullying in a way they will understand. Family Lives and Scope have great support and advice for families with a child with additional needs or neurodivergence.

Useful information

Kidscape and Childline have more support for parents on different types of bullying and how to support your child.

Contact Kent School Health - we really want to hear from you if you feel you need more support for you and your child.