If you have just found out or suspect your child has been bullying others, it may be a shock and you may be at a loss on what steps to take. It is important to remain calm and not react in anger or frustration.
Find out all the facts
Your first reaction might be shock or anger that your son or daughter is being accused of bullying. It is important to calmly listen to what the school has to say about it and ask for as much information you can on the incidents. Find out what the school's take is on the bullying and then find out how they addressed it. If the bullying is online, there may be further repercussions as it may have been reported to other authorities such as the social network site, gaming site, etc.
Talking to your child
At some point, sooner rather than later, you will need to have a chat with your child about this. It is really important that you remain calm and get their side of their story. Do not go in angry or they may shut off and not want to talk. Find out how they felt, what lead up to these incidents and what they feel would help to resolve this. Explore the feelings of the person who has been bullied and ask your child how they think they would be feeling. Get them to put their feet in their shoes to understand the impact of bullying and how it can cause long term issues.
Letting your child know to expect some form of sanctions or consequences is essential too and remind them that this could impact on their future choices.
What could be behind their behaviour?
Sometimes, changes or difficulties in a child's life could be behind a child behaving in a negative way. Has there been changes in the family recently, a bereavement or conflict perhaps? Maybe they have experienced bullying or a need to belong in a certain friendship group. They may have unresolved feelings due to an upset or emotional issue which needs addressing. Whatever the cause may be, it is important to try and delve behind the behaviour to find out the root cause and help them find another way to deal with this, whether this is through counselling, support or an activity where they may be helping others.
What the school might do
Sanctions against your child could include a warning, detention, isolation, temporary or permanent exclusion. Every school is different and will deal with the bullying in their way and according to their anti-bullying policy.
They may arrange restorative justice, which is a scheme to help those who have been harmed to convey the impact of the harm to those responsible, and for those responsible to acknowledge this impact and take steps to put it right. They may arrange for mediation between your child and the person who has been bullied to help resolve and prevent further incidents.
If the bullying is serious, violent or threats have been made, the family of the person who has been bullied may involve the police. The school may also take serious steps, so it is important to understand this and convey this to your child.
Encourage your child to make changes within themselves. Ask them to look outwardly and think about others feelings and reactions. Teaching them about empathy and kindness may help them. Even if they are not interested in hearing this, some of it may still go in. Ask them to treat others the way they would like to be treated and most importantly, ensure that the family as a whole take this approach.
It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker.