Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email

My son is being bullied

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 22 January 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,

My 14 year old son has told me that he is being bullied at school, and I don't know what to do. He refuses to talk to me about it since I told him I would speak to the headmaster to get it sorted.

It started when we moved, and he had to be initiated into a new school. He is only slightly built, and an easy target. I just want to protect him.

What can I do?

Patricia Marie says...

Bullying, both inside and outside school, is a common distress for children and an anxiety for their parents. It often goes unreported, with victims suffering in silence, and parents left concerned by their child's withdrawn behaviour.

Your son should be praised for confiding in you, as he may have been fearing that if he speaks out, the problem will worsen. Build on his confidence by working together to stop this unacceptable torment, and tell him that unless bullies are stopped, they continue to intimidate others, and worsen their tactics. Make him aware that every school has a zero tolerance to bullying, and that whilst you must demand the Headmaster investigates, you will insist that the matter is dealt with sensitively. Your son needs to understand that the bullying is in no way his fault, but he may be able to avoid it. Encourage him to make friends with one or two of the quieter, more sensible people in his class.

Try not to take your son out of school, as you could experience problems re-introducing him, and it could affect the school's ability to sort out the problem effectively. Most schools have Befrienders, assigned to support pupils who are experiencing difficulties, which could assist your son greatly. Request to be given a contact at the school, with whom you can liaise at any time to check on your son's welfare. If you are not satisfied with the school's response in any way, approach the school governors, or in the absence of a satisfactory conclusion, The Advisory Centre for Education.

Increasingly, social media has become a forum for bullying among school children. This is known as Cyberbullying. If this happens to your son, block the perpetrator immediately and save any detrimental evidence. You may need to refer to this as the investigation progresses.

Understandably, you may want to contact the bully yourself, but this could cause embarrassment and further anguish for your son, as well as escalating the situation. Concentrate instead on keeping him as stress free as possible, encourage him to open up about his concerns, and ensure he is eating healthily, getting regular exercise, and sleeping well to enhance his wellbeing.

Family Lives (formerly Parentline) offer 24/7 help and support in all aspects of family life. Also, Childline can offer counselling for your son, as well as professional advice at any time of the day or night.

Hopefully when it's all sorted your son can start to enjoy his school days again, which each and every child is entitled to, and deserves no less.

The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE): 0300 0115 142
Childline: 0800 1111
Family Lives: 0808 800 2222
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