It is heartbreaking when your child is going through a bullying situation. You may be considering whether your child would be happier at a different school, or you might be thinking about home educating your child. It may even be the case that your child is refusing to go to school, and it feels like there is no choice but to take them out. In some cases, families can even feel under pressure by the school to remove their child.
Kidscape supports many families who are, or have been in this position. You are not alone, and we know how difficult it can be. Here are some things to consider:
Make sure your child’s safety is at the heart of all decision making. Bullying can have a big impact on a child’s life. If your child is scared to go to school and you can see the effect it is having on them, you need to take action. In the short term, if bullying is impacting your child’s physical and/or mental health, you have the parental right to keep your child at home.
Tell the school what is happening. Schools by law must prevent and respond to bullying, and so make sure you give the school a chance to work with you and your child to resolve the situation. Tell them the impact it is having, and what you need from them (see the Kidscape log and school contact record for more help with this).
Think through the consequences of removing your child. Be aware that if you remove your child from school it may be some time before another school place becomes available and support from the local authority may be limited.
Support your child to start again. Children who have experienced severe bullying can be traumatised and school-phobic and may find it challenging to start again at a new school. Make sure they are fully involved in all decisions you make and seek support to build their confidence and assertiveness (see Kidscape ZAP assertiveness workshops). Share with the new school what has happened, and agree an action plan to support your child with the transition.
Seek help from your GP. If your child is experiencing physical or mental ill health as a result of bullying make sure you consult with your GP as soon as possible. Your child may need counselling or other support to help them get back on their feet.
Think through home education. If you are considering home education think carefully about your capacity to support the academic and social needs of your child long term, and the impact on family life (e.g. potential loss of earnings, support for younger siblings). There is lots of support out there for families who choose to home educate (see educationotherwise.org).
Dealing with your own feelings. It is natural to feel angry and frustrated if this has happened to your child. You may also feel there is a case to take up with the school and/or the local authority about what has happened, but it’s important that the immediate needs of your child for support and education are the first priority. Try to create an environment at home that is calm and supportive, and seek help from family and friends.
Many families go through this situation, and with the right support children can and do enjoy school life again. For more help visit our advice pages or call the Kidscape Parent Advice Line, Mon-Thurs, 9am-1pm on 020 7823 5430.