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How to beat the bullies

If our feature on how to cope when your child gets bullied touched a nerve, here are some practical things you can do to combat the bullies…


BeatBullying logoThe first step towards helping your child is talking to them, advises charity BeatBullying. Being open, honest and approachable will make it easier for them to discuss their feelings and to take practical steps towards getting help.

Work together

Ask your child what they want to happen next, then work together to agree some first steps. It can be tempting, but if you take matters into your own hands and deal with the bullying by yourself, you will make your child feel more helpless by taking away their power to make decisions. Talking to the bully or their parents could lead them to accuse you of threatening behaviour and give the bullies more ammunition to use against your child. Instead, let your child know that you will not go behind their back or do anything to get help without talking to them about it and having their agreement.

Your child’s safety

Make sure your child stays safe by planning how to handle bullying situations. Tell them never to endanger themselves by standing up to bullies when they are outnumbered. If scared, they should run away and shout for help. Reassure them it is far more shameful for a group of people to gang up on one person than for that one person to decide to get out of the situation. To guard against cyber bullying, remind your child they should never let anyone have access to their passwords and to check the settings on accounts like Facebook or Moshi Monsters to ensure personal information is kept private. Advise them to block any users that send them nasty messages and never respond or retaliate, as this can just make things worse.

Get evidence

Encourage and help your child to record and report any incident of bullying they experience, keeping a diary of everything that’s happening. Save and print out any online bullying messages, posts, pictures or videos and make a note of any details you have about the sender’s ID and the URL. Likewise, if you decide to approach the school, make a note of any contact you have with them.

Get help from others

Encourage your child to report the problem to a trusted teacher at their school, or you could meet with their class tutor or head of year. If a resolution is possible at this meeting, you should aim to put in place a set of actions to help monitor the situation and any progress. If you are not satisfied with how things go, then you can approach the school’s complaints officer and then governing body if necessary. You can also support your child by getting help from one of the organisations listed below.

Bullying at work

Bullying doesn’t just take place in the playground with children – a survey by Counselling Directory shows bullying of adults at work and cyber bullying are on the increase. Bullying at work can include:

  • Public verbal abuse – When a colleague frequently makes you feel inadequate or misrepresented in front of your colleagues.
  • Unreasonable workload – Being given a workload that is impossible to complete in the allotted time.
  • Gossiping colleagues – When rumours are spread about either your personal life or appearance behind your back.
  • Manipulation – Being told that your job is at risk if you are unable to complete certain tasks within a deadline, which is often unreasonable.

How to tackle it

Not only is bullying at work unacceptable, under the Equality Act 2010, it is also against the law. For individuals who do believe they are being victimised in the workplace, talking to their manager, HR department or trade union representative should be the first port of call, and of course opening up to a friend or family member could also be a huge release.

Cyber bullying

People targeted by cyber bullying are often left feeling frightened, distressed and humiliated, fearing that it may never come to an end. If you are on the receiving end, remember that no one has the right to make you feel this way. Don’t be ashamed to let people know what’s going on so help can be sought.

Cyber bullying can take a number of forms, including:

  • emails
  • instant messaging
  • social networking messages or live chats
  • hacking

How to tackle it

Seeking help can be more problematic because the bully is often anonymous. In cases such as these the following steps can be taken:

  • Talk to your friends and family about your situation. Just opening up and voicing your concerns is likely to come as a huge relief.
  • If possible, block the bullies from messaging or emailing you. Contact your email provider to find out how to do this if you aren’t sure.
  • Stay offline unless completely necessary.
  • If the abuse is very serious, contact local police and take legal action if necessary.
  • Keep a record of all abusive messages and contact so that they can be used as evidence if needed.

For cases in which victims have already begun to feel the emotional and psychological impact of bullying, further emotional support such as counselling may be beneficial. A specially trained counsellor or psychotherapist will employ a set of specialist techniques to help you to break free from the bully-victim cycle.

Who can help?

BeatBullying: Youngsters can go to the website for online support from mentors and experienced counsellors.

Parentdish: Further advice on what parents, other family members and siblings can do to help a child who is being bullied.

Counselling Directory: Go the website to search for a counsellor or psychotherapist near you or ring the customer service team on 0844 803 0240.

Samaritans: Call 08457 90 90 90, email jo@samaritans.org, write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, Chris, PO Box 90 90, Stirling, FK8 2SA or go to the Samaritans website to find your local branch.

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