Taking time off school because of bullying

It is totally understandable when a young person doesn't want to go to school because they are experiencing bullying. When a young person feels targeted in this way, they may go into fight or flight mode and therefore not want to go into a situation or setting that is putting them at risk emotionally or physically. 


Unfortunately, taking time off school without a reason the school considers valid, can cause issues for families. Knowing how to tackle this is not easy nor straightforward as each school will handle this differently. Some may be supportive and understanding whereas others may be restrictive in their approach. 

First steps to take 

In the first instance, it is essential to support your child in how they are feeling. If they are feeling very low and you are worried, speak to your GP as they may be able to refer your child for counselling. If it has got to the point your child feels unable to go to school, the impact of the bullying must be really taking it's toll on them inside and out. Let them know that you are there for them and will support them no matter what. This level of reassurance will give them strength and help them feel empowered.

Speak to the school

It is important to speak to the school as soon as you are able to. Be honest about why your child is off school so they can investigate the situation. Let them know you are willing to work with them but your child does not feel safe either physically or emotionally at this present time. It is understandable that they will be encouraging you to try and get your child to come to school but this is where as a parent, to trust your instincts. Ask the school to deal with this sensitively and appropriately. Hopefully, if this is case, you can work together to bring a resolve to this situation. 

Get in touch with your Local Authority as they may be able to provide practical support through the Education Welfare Officer. They can often make a big difference so children can go back into school quickly and with the continued support they need. They will most likely come up with a plan that everyone is in agreement with to help your child feel more supported.

If this doesn't make a difference you can speak to Ofsted and make a complaint about how things are being dealt with. This should be the last resort if you are unable to come up with a plan or agreement on phasing your child back into school.

Encouraging your child to seek support 

Your child may be feeling a range of emotions, such as anger, anxiety, frightened or depressed because of the bullying they have endured. Bullying can cause a child to have all kinds of emotions and these are valid and natural under the circumstance. They may still be feeling worried if the bullying continues online. Encourage your child to open up about how they feel so they do not bottle up their feelings. They can also talk to organisation such as The Mix who support young people with any issue through web chats, helpline or online advice. 

Dealing with your feelings 

This will be a very difficult time for most parents and if you can, try to lean on your support network. You may be feeling helpless, angry and deflated all at once at what is going on and this is understandable. Watching your child go through such a traumatic time is frightening for families. Bullying UK provides advice and support via our helpline, so please do call us on 0808 800 2222. 

Further support 

Red Balloon provide an 'intensive care' full-time education for children aged between 9 and 18 who are unable to go to school because they have been severely bullied or who have suffered trauma.

Young Minds can also provide you with support and advice to parents and children on their emotional and mental health. 

Child Law Advice have an education line where you can get advice and information about taking time off school because of bullying. 


This page was updated on July 2018 

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