​​If your child has seen bullying

Your child may know someone who is being bullied or has seen it happening at school. Witnessing bullying can be distressing.

A child who witnesses or knows bullying is occurring needs support.

Ask your child to tell you about it

Encourage your child to talk about what happened.

Children who see bullying sometimes want to talk about:

  • not knowing what to do or not wanting to make the situation worse
  • not knowing if their actions will make a difference
  • feeling worried about their safety if they intervene
  • feeling worried about the impact of taking action on their friendships
  • being anxious that they will be bullied as a result of intervening.

Let them know you understand their feelings and fears about what to do. Respect their feelings and the assessment of the situation.

Ask your child what they want you to do. Don't jump in to solve the problem.

If there is an immediate risk of danger to anyone involved, contact the school.

Tell your child that reporting the bullying is okay because kids often need help from adults to stop it. Point out that if they don't do anything the bullying will only continue.

Talk about how to be a supportive bystander

If other students are confident to take safe and effective action there is a greater possibility that the bullying will stop.

Supportive bystanders can use words and/or actions that can help someone who is being bullied.

Suggest to your child if they feel safe to do so, they could:

  • walk away and tell a teacher right away
  • tell the person who is bullying you will get a teacher if they don't stop
  • encourage your friends to walk away or tell the person to stop
  • tell the person bullying you don't think what they do is cool or funny
  • help the person who is being bullied to get away and go somewhere safe.

Suggest that if they don't think it's safe to say anything, there are other things they could do:

  • tell the person being bullied that it is not okay and they didn't do anything wrong
  • ask them if they want help to get it stopped
  • tell a teacher about it
  • help a friend or classmate who is being bullied with other things
  • try to make sure your friend is not alone when they might get bullied
  • ask the person who is being bullied to join your group or game
  • walk away as people who bully like others to watch.

For kids and For teens have more strategies you can discuss with your child. It can also be helpful to practise these strategies at home to help your child feel more confident.

Respect your child's judgement about whether it is safe to say something. They are the ones who really know the situation.

If your child tells you that the bullying is continuing or increasing, contact the school

If the actions of supportive bystanders do not help to stop the bullying, it is important to be in touch with the school.

Let your child know that you take the bullying seriously and that you can help them to report it to the school.

Give your child the Kids Helpline telephone number and web address if they want to talk to someone other than the school, or you think the added support would be beneficial.