Unfortunately, bullying is becoming increasingly common, with as many as 1 in 6 children being bullied in some way on a weekly basis.


Bullying refers to aggressive behaviours that intentionally cause hurt or harm to a child. These behaviours can be physical or verbal, and are typically repeated over time.

We say a child is being bullied when another child or several other children:

  • Say or do mean or hurtful things
  • Hit, kick, punch, or shove
  • Exclude them from their group or leave them out of things on purpose, repeatedly
  • Spread rumours or tell lies, or try and make other children not like them

Cyberbullying: via the internet and smart phones. This can occur at any time, day or night, and in any location. Children cannot escape it even in their own home. It can be observed by large audiences and it is easier for cyber than traditional bullies to shield their identity.

No matter how often a child is told to just ignore it, the fact is that bullying hurts. Children who are bullied can experience a range of negative outcomes including, depression, anxiety, bedwetting, social withdrawal, lack of friends, loneliness, dislike or avoidance of school, poor academic performance and suicidal tendencies.


Children can go to great lengths to hide the fact that they are being bullied. They may do this because they are embarrassed or believe if they tell someone the situation will only get worse.

So how can you tell if your child is being bullied? Look for changes in behaviour.

Spotting the signs of bullying:

  • Increase in aggressive behaviours or bullying of siblings
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Increase in physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches, or pretending to be sick so they can stay home from school
  • Lost or destroyed property
  • Nightmares or sleep disturbances
  • Feelings of helplessness or low self-esteem
  • School avoidance or lack of interest in school work
  • Drop in academic performance
  • Reduced social contact with friends or loss of friendships

Taking action against bullying:

  • Find out as much as you can about the situation
  • Reassure your child that this is not their fault
  • Contact the preschool or school and ask to see the bullying policy
  • Ensure regular follow-up meetings until you have reached a positive resolution
  • Get your child involved in activities that encourage independence, assertiveness and healthy peer relationships (e.g., sporting teams, cubs or scouts, dance, drama club)

Encourage your child to behave assertively in threatening situations.


Victims of bullying rarely feel as though they are able to stop it themselves.

Children who are witnesses to bullying are referred to as bystanders. Bystanders have three main roles, they can:

  1. Assist and encourage the bully (bully assistant)
  2. Passively watch the bullying (witnesses)
  3. Actively intervene to support the victim and try to stop the bullying (defenders).

If you have any particular questions, please ask Dr Cathrine and she will personally answer any concerns you have.