Safety at School


What if my Child is Bullying?

NSW public school counsellor Caroline Powell talks about what you can do and say to your child if you are worried they may be bullying others.


We talk a lot about support and care for the child who is being bullied, but in my experience (and studies support this) the student who is doing the bullying also needs support – there is nearly always an underlying issue or reason that triggers this anti-social behaviour.

If you discover your child is the bully, there are a number of things you can do to address the behaviour and help to make it stop.

Firstly, you need to take it seriously.

You need to stay calm and you need to reassure your child that while you are incredibly disappointed and disapprove of their actions, you will listen to them without judgement and help them work through any problem they may have no matter how serious.

Your child needs to understand that bullying another person is completely unacceptable and that no matter what has happened to them, it is never okay.

Talk to them about the impact on the student who is being bullied.

Try to get your child to walk in their target’s shoes – how would they feel if this was happening to them?

Often children bully in an attempt to impress other kids and make friends. Your child needs to learn better ways to communicate and make friends.

Also find out if your child has ever been bullied in the past.

Often we find children who are bullies have been bullied themselves either by another student or possibly even outside of school.

Make an appointment with your child’s teacher – try to find out what’s going on during school hours.

  • Has your child recently changed their peer group?
  • Are they having problems with school work?
  • What have their teachers observed?

Parents will often ask me how they should punish their child. Should they ground them? Should they take away privileges like mobile phones and laptops?

There is no one answer that fits every case.

What I do make clear to parents is that the solution involves more than punishment. The bullying won’t stop with a slap on the wrist.

They need to spend time understanding WHY their child is deliberately and repeatedly hurting another child.

We all like to think the best of our kids and it’s tempting to make excuses for their behaviour – but as parents we need to make sure our children understand boundaries and what we expect of them.

Bullying is anti-social and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.



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