By the time a pupil is at secondary school he/she will know perfectly well that bullying is wrong.
There have been many cases where teenagers have killed themselves due to bullying and no doubt the bullies never thought this would be the consequence of their behaviour.
You can tell your teenager that Bullying UK gets hundreds of emails a month and a surprising proportion of these are from secondary school pupils who say they are suicidal now or have been in the past.
Some have been cutting themselves due to their distress. Others are receiving psychiatric and psychological help. Many of them are too frightened to go to school and some have been removed from school by their parents.
We also get emails from pupils suffering from eating disorders because they have been called fat when they are perfectly normal, and others from pupils with Aspergers syndrome who are teased because their condition makes it difficult to relate to other people.
Bullies also target those who are more clever, more popular and better looking than they are as well as those who stand out in any way perhaps because they wear spectacles, have red hair, dyslexia, diabetes or are just quiet and pleasant.
If your child is a teenager then discuss these issues with them. Ask if they really want to be responsible for another person having a mental breakdown and suffering unhappiness that often carries over into adult life.
Questions you can ask an older child
- How he/she feels about the victim and what they don't like about him/her?
- Who else is joining in the bullying?
- Why are they are doing it?
- Have they thought of the effect bullying is having on the other person?
- Is he/she joining in because they're afraid of the consequences if they don't?
- How does he/she think the person being bullied must feel?
- Does he/she realise that attacking someone else is a criminal offence?
- Does he/she realise that sending abusive emails, text or phone messages is a criminal offence?
- If the bullying complained about was happening to him/her what would he/she want done about it?
Most children are fundamentally decent and after initially denying their involvement many will be genuinely sorry.Sometimes bullies show no understanding of the distress their behaviour causes and no remorse.
For cases like these then a visit to the family doctor to try to get expert psychological help to get to the bottom of it is essential.