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HealthInfo Canterbury

Getting help if your child is being bullied

Finding out that your child is being bullied can be upsetting, confusing and stressful. But there are several ways you can get help for your child.

Schools

Schools must provide a safe, positive physical and emotional bullying-free learning environment. If you're concerned that your child is being bullied, speak to their class teacher or the school's principal.

When talking to school staff about bullying, try to be calm and be as clear as possible about what has happened. Ask what steps will be taken and if a plan will be made for school and home.

After your meeting with the school, let them know if the bullying stops and ask what else they can do to help your child.

If you aren't happy about the way the school has responded to a bullying complaint, you can make a written complaint to the board of trustees.

The Ministry of Education has more information about bullying.

Police

As well as talking to your child's school, in some circumstances you can take complaints to the police.

Whether or not they will prosecute depends on several things such as any evidence, the age of the person doing the bullying and how severe the bullying is.

If you want to find out if the bullying behaviour is a criminal offence, call the Parents Legal Information Line toll free on 0800-499-488 or go to the Community Law website.

Support for your child

If your child is distressed by a bullying situation, they may find it helpful to talk to a trained counsellor. There are free support options:

0800 What's Up?

0800 What's Up? is a free counselling helpline and webchat service for children and teenagers.

Freephone 0800‑942‑8787. Monday to Friday, 12 noon to 11 pm. Weekends 3 pm to 11 pm.

You may prefer to chat online. Monday to Friday, 1 pm to 10 pm.

Youthline

Any young person in New Zealand or anyone supporting a young person can call Youthline for help.

Freephone 0800‑376-633 (any time) or free txt 234 to speak to a counsellor.

You can also chat online using the webchat between 10 am and 10 pm, 7 days a week.

Email any time. Counsellors aim to respond to emails within 24 hours.

Right Service Right Time

If you want to look at face-to-face counselling for you and your child, Right Service Right Time provides a starting place to find the best service.

Phone: (03) 378-2782 or 027-654-7788 or email.

Cyberbullying

If your child has been cyberbullied, you should keep all the evidence by saving bullying messages and taking screen shots of any online abuse. This will be useful if you report the bullying to the school or the police.

Work with your child to agree on a plan of action that supports them but doesn't harm their social life further or reduce their contact with friends.

Report internet cyberbullying to the website where the bullying took place. Usually there's a report abuse button or safety link, as well as a block sender or block user link.

You can also report an incident to Netsafe using their online form.

If the bullying is happening through text messages, contact your child's mobile phone company and ask them to take action. They can block numbers or disable the account that the texts or calls are coming from.

Bullying-Free NZ has more information about cyberbullying.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2021.

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Review key: HIBCH-206166