CHILDLINE ADVICE: How to help a child deal with the many forms of bullying

At Childline, we often have conversations about bullying with children and young people.

Counsellors are available to help children through the challenges they may be facing.
Counsellors are available to help children through the challenges they may be facing.

This hasn’t changed because we’re all experiencing a pandemic, and it didn’t stop when children were being schooled online at home rather than in the classroom.

But some children and young people may feel heightened anxiety when they are faced with spending a significant amount of time in the same physical space as someone who upsets them. This can become an overwhelming worry for children, particularly when they’re already coping with extraordinary levels of change and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic.

Bullying can take many forms, including being called names or being teased or humiliated, being the victim of nasty rumours, trolling on social media, or being ignored, left out and made to feel not wanted. It can also mean having possessions or money stolen, being hit, or being threatened with physical violence.

This can be incredibly hard for children and young people, so it is really important to let your child know they can talk to you or another adult they trust. Discussing what’s been happening and how this has been having an impact on their wellbeing may not resolve everything instantly, but it’s an important first step towards things getting better.

As a parent, it can be difficult to hear your child is being bullied, and sometimes even more difficult to know what to do next. Initially, the most important thing is to calmly listen to what they’re saying, and let them know you’re there for them. Come to an agreement about what the next steps should be, and remember that schools have a responsibility to support their pupils.

It might be helpful to put together a diary of what has been happening, or screenshots of messages that have been sent.

Childline can help too, because sometimes talking things through with one of our counsellors can help find a way of resolving things. Children can contact us on 0800 11 11 or If the bullying is online, children should report the posts to the app and block the person targeting them. If you or your child would like help in understanding how to do this, you can find advice on, which we run with O2.