Helping your Child to Overcome Bullying

Helping your child to overcome bullying

Bullying can be an upsetting and frightening experience; it is prevalent among both adults and children and can have a major negative impact on a person’s overall well-being. There is much research to support and bring to light the prevalence of bullying within Northern Ireland. A study conducted by Ulster University[1] provides some evidence regarding bullying. They found that in primary schools 40% of pupils and 30% of post-primary pupils reported having been bullied at school. Worryingly, they found that 25% of primary pupils and 28% of post-primary pupils admitting to bullying others.

An independent poll commissioned by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum[2] discovered that more than half of respondents had personally experienced bullying in the last six months. The poll found that one in three people admitted to being ‘picked on’ while almost a quarter of people admitted that bullying happened a lot. The poll also found that the majority of bullying occurred within school, on the internet or travelling to/from school.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the poll revealed that almost three quarters of participants who stated they had more than one good friend before lockdown occurred in March 2020 has dropped to 62%. 23% of people stated Covid-19 had escalated bullying particularly online. This indicates the prevalence of bullying is higher now more than ever.

Bullying, what is it?

Bullying is consistent and intentional, exploitation of power in a relationship. It is the physical or emotional hurting of one individual or group to another individual or group and can be in-person or online[3] and can be obvious or hidden (behind someone’s back).

Types of bullying:

Physical bullying involves the intentional physical harm to an individual, such as kicking, biting, spiting, punching, pushing, hair pulling, threats and damaging ones belongings.

Verbal bullying involves hurtful verbal abuse, such as name calling, insulting, racist and homophobic remarks, untiring teasing and cursing.

Social bullying this often happens behind a person’s back, where an individual or a group wishes to ruin another person’s social reputation or embarrass them, such as making up false stories, spreading nasty jokes, exclusion, making unkind faces and gestures.

Cyber bullying involves bullying behaviours across the use of technology, for example, on smartphones, tablets, laptops, social media, chat rooms, texting, websites or any online platform, in which a person or group may send hurtful messages, post negative remarks or photographs of an individual, exclusion or spread nasty rumours.

Racist bullying involves ongoing exposure to offensive and hurtful behaviours towards an individual’s skin colour, culture, religion or ethnicity, such as name calling, mocking, and physically hurting an individual, humiliation, exclusion and vandalism[4].

Emotional bullying involves consistently hurting an individual’s emotional well-being, such as teasing, name-calling, belittling, humiliating, disempowering and lying to another individual[5].

How to recognise the signs of bullying:
  • Physical attributes: unexplained cuts and bruises, loss of appetite, not sleeping, bed wetting
  • Emotional attributes: showing signs of anxiety, stress, depression, aggression
  • Social attributes: avoidance of places, such as school or social activities, very few friends, isolation, avoidance of social media


One Kind Word: Anti-Bullying Campaign

In 2020, the ‘One Kind Word’ campaign from the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum was a massive success with 80% of schools taking part, which included over 7.5 million children and young people

How you could promote ‘One Kind Word’:
  • Just say hello
  • Apologise when required
  • Ask someone ‘are you okay?’ if they look to be having a bad day
  • Speak to someone who looks to be excluded
  • Pay a compliment
  • Invite or organise a date with a friend

‘One Kind Word’ can make a person’s day, giving them a moment of hope and happiness, changing their perspective and break the cycle of bullying. Being kind promotes kindness from others[6].


Tips for helping your child to overcome bullying

  1. Listen and reassure: Put your own feelings aside and listen to what your child is telling you when talking about bullying. Allow them to explain what is happening and accept what they are saying. Praise your child for telling you and let them know
    they did the right thing getting help. Make sure your child knows this isn’t their fault, and reassure them that they are loved and valued.
  2. Find out the facts: Repeat back to them what you have heard from them about the bullying to show you have listened and ask your child how they want to move forward. If they feel involved in deciding what to do they will be less
    likely to become more stressed or anxious than they already are
  3. Stay Calm: Try to remain calm and not over-react. Your child may be
    really worried about telling you they are being bullied and could
    be scared that your reaction will make things worse
  4. Talk to your child’s school or club: Schools have a responsibility to
    protect pupils from bullying. Talk to them whether it is happening in or out
    of school. If the bullying is happening at a youth club, speak to the leader in charge. Arrange a meeting, bring any evidence you have of the bullying
    and express the impact it is having on your child. You might want to
    jot down notes from what is said at the meeting. Ask for a copy of the
    school’s Anti-Bullying policy and ask what action will be taken making sure
    everyone is in agreement with what should be done. Arrange to meet
    again to be updated of any progress
  5. Line of contact: If the bullying continues and you are not happy with the schools response from either the child’s teacher or principal, you can write to the Chair of the schools Board of Governors. If the situation continues, you can write a formal
    complaint to the Education Authority or CMS Board.



[2] Young people reveal scale of bullying in schools – The Irish News