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Warning signs
Running away, non-attendance at school, other learning and behavioural difficulties for no obvious reason. Your child has injuries with no feasible explanation for them.  You should investigate if a child:

  • is frightened of walking to or from school
  • doesn't want to go on the school / public bus
  • begs to be driven to school
  • changes their usual routine
  • is unwilling to go to school (school phobic)
  • begins to truant
  • becomes withdrawn anxious, or lacking in confidence
  • starts stammering
  • down and sad (which is out of character)
  • signs of self harming
  • avoids sitting near particular pupils in class, and wants to sit close to teacher
  • attempts or threatens suicide, or runs away
  • cries themselves to sleep at night or has nightmares
  • deterioration in health, feels ill in the morning
  • unfocussed on school work / is falling behind
  • comes home with clothes torn or books damaged
  • has possessions which are damaged or "go missing"
  • asks for money or starts stealing money (to pay bully)
  • has dinner or other monies continually "lost"
  • has unexplained cuts or bruises
  • comes home starving (money / lunch has been stolen)
  • becomes aggressive, disruptive or unreasonable (in and out of school)
  • is bullying other children or siblings
  • stops eating
  • is frightened to say what's wrong
  • doesn't want to go outside in break times
  • gives improbable excuses for any of the above
  • is afraid to use the internet or mobile phone
  • is nervous and jumpy when a cyber message is received

See the headteacher at the school for their support and action. If bullying is happening outside school, consider contacting the family of the child who is bullying and try to find a way to work together to sort it out.

What to say
Refuse to put up with bullying. Walk away, tell an adult or friend and avoid fighting. Parents - listen to your child, reassure then and be there for them.

Talk to your child about their school day. Teach your child to respect others from a young age. Teach your child that prejudice and bullying is unacceptable.

The facts

  • Children have the right not to be hurt
  • Bullying behaviour is unacceptable
  • Bullying can happen to any child at any age
  • Speak to your child’s school immediately if you have any concerns
  • Act immediately if you think your child is being bullied
  • Children need ways to protect themselves and seek help
  • Advise your child to run, yell and tell
  • Racial harassment is a form of bullying

The real story
Bullying is a frightening experience. It can isolate and damage a young person's self-confidence. Some ongoing bullying can have negative long-term effects on children, leading to depression and even suicidal thoughts and actions.

School days are a time when the influence of other children is very important and fitting in is seen as essential. If children are thought of as different for any reason, they can be picked on and bullied. Sadly, we still live in a society in which to be different in any way can mean ridicule and bullying (often copied from parents) and this ensures that prejudice will continue into the next generation. It is crucial to be alert to the possibility of bullying and make sure you know the tell-tale signs.

You may think that your child is unlikely to be bullied but the reality is that bullying can happen at any time and to any child.

Bullies who continually harm other children need support and help as well. They may have experienced difficulties of their own at home, which may have led to their actions. Reporting concerns may help them to get help as well.

  • Bullying can happen anywhere but most commonly it happens in school.
  • Bullying can take many forms, from verbal abuse to physical attack.
  • Bullying is the repeated abuse of a child by one or several people.
  • Bullies are not always older than the child they harm.
  • Most bullying is done by children who are the same age as the victim.

If your child tells you about a friend or any other child who is being bullied – listen carefully and take this seriously. That child may not be able to say for themselves what is happening.

Today all schools are required to have an Anti-Bullying Policy. However, school action alone cannot guarantee success. It is important that parents and schools work together in partnership to secure support and protection for the child for both the present and the future. It is essential that parents make contact with their child’s school as soon as they become aware of any problems before they become huge.

Racial harassment
Racial harassment is any hostile or offensive action against individuals or groups because of their skin colour, ethnic origin, religion or cultural background. Racial harassment can severely affect a child’s ability to learn effectively and the effect of harassment can remain with a person throughout their life.

There can be different forms of racial harassment including: verbal abuse (name calling, insulting slurs and persistent teasing); physical abuse (hitting, kicking, spitting, taking belongings and threats of violence); indirect (excluding, humiliation, spreading nasty rumours and ridicule).

Practical steps to take if your child is being racially harassed

  • Make an appointment with your child’s school.
  • Be specific; give dates, places, and names of other children involved.
  • Make a note of what action the school intends to take.
  • Enquire if there is any existing policy against racial harassment incidents.

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