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My child has been accused of bullying others

It is very difficult for parents and carers when they find out that their child has been involved in a bullying incident - perhaps even more so if their child is the one accused of bullying behaviour. 

The important thing to remember is that anyone is capable of bullying behaviour. As parents you have a key role in helping your child to recognise the harm they have caused and encouraging them to change their behaviour in the future.  All parents and carers should speak to their children about what bullying is - and how it makes people feel.

They need to feel they can talk to you if there is bullying happening in their class or school. Sometimes children and young people can be pulled into bullying behaviour by friends or the wider peer group - this is particularly true of hurtful comments and images spread through social networking sites. Some top tips for parents include:

  • Make sure your child knows what bullying behaviour is and why it is wrong

  • Make sure your child knows they can talk to you, or to another adult if they are worried about bullying

  • Help your child to realise that noone has the right to pressure them into something they don't want to do - this includes bullying others

  • Make sure they are not bullying others in retaliation for bullying they have suffered - find out if there is a wider culture of bullying in the school or environment where its happened

  • Talk to your child about information that is shared through social networking sites - let them know that they shouldn't upload comments or images that could hurt someone else - or pass on content that is designed to hurt someone else. Let them know most social networking sites have report buttons if they have seen bullying behaviour and they want to stop it.

  • Make it clear that you do not tolerate the use of disrespectful and hurtful language and behaviour as a family (it's vital that you model this as parents)

If the school contact you to say your child has been involved in bullying incident stay calm and make sure you gather all the facts relating to the incident. Ask to see evidence if it is available (for example: if the alleged bullying is through the internet or phones).  Ask for a copy of the school anti-bullying and behaviour policy so you can ensure that they are following agreed procedures. Take time to listen to your child's side of the story - but keep an open mind.  If the school share information or evidence that shocks you (children can sometimes behave very differently  away from their parents) again stay calm, and take time to talk through the incident with your child.  Try not to see the behaviour as a permanent reflection of their character - but make clear the behaviour you would like to change.  It may be that their current friendship group is having a negative effect on their behaviour - in which case you should talk about what it means to be a friend, and gently encourage them to form more positive relationships.

Ditch the Label have written a blog about '7 tips to stop bullying others' 

Ultimately you are not the first - and you will not be the last parent to have to face this.  Don't blame yourself - today is the time for change.

See here Dr Luke Robert's three tips for active listening blog which he wrote for Kidscape