The direct approach

The simplest way to find out if a child is being bullied is to ask directly, e.g. 'Is anyone being mean to you? Are they bullying you? What are they doing?' Then observe her body language when she replies. Does your child answer the question directly, e.g. 'Yes' or 'No'? If so, do the 'Whodunnit' exercise with your child.

Once you have established that your child is being bullied, fill out this questionnaire with her. It is essential to obtain the whole story - this is crucial for school meetings, and allows you to monitor any changes. It may also be useful later on to improve the school's legal accountability. Use a notebook, index cards (one per week) or a computer to maintain a record of the bullying until it ends.

The 'Whodunnit' exercise

Parents and kids activity

Bully 2

Bully 3

Bully 4

Bully 5

(Include her grade next to her name.)

• Teases, calls me names, says something as I walk past.

• Pushes, punches, hits, kicks, threatens, pinches, touches me in a mean manner.

• Leaves me out, talks behind my back, spreads nasty gossip, gives threatening looks, uses me, threatens me, breaks my belongings, sends mean text messages, emails and lies about me to other kids.

2. I think the bully:

• is fooling around and doesn't mean to upset me yes/no

• enjoys hurting me yes/no

• just follows the bully leader yes/no

• bullies other kids too yes/no

• became a bully after our disagreement yes/no

• At the beginning of school year or term

• I have been bullied at these schools:

• I have been bullied for years.

• Home ^ walk/bicycle/car/bus/train/boat/tram ^ school

• School: classroom ^ office ^ library ^ hall ^ change rooms ^ lockers ^ toilets ^ sports^ oval ^ laneways ^ football field ^ swimming pool ^ yard ^ canteen.

• Local community: shopping mall, movies, playground, after-school activities e.g. tennis, swimming, football.

5. This is what I say and do when I am bullied:

(e.g. 'I say the same thing back.' 'I pretend I didn't hear.' 'I don't want to lose my friends so I don't tell them how I feel.')

6. The students who witnessed the bullying:

• While it was happening they

• The students who tried to help me were

• While it was happening my friends

7. I reported it to the school: when? where? how often?

• These teachers were helpful:

• These teachers were unsympathetic:

• These teachers tried but weren't successful:

8. What actions did the school take?

9. Who else is being bullied?

10. What else is happening at school? e.g. your main teacher is away for a semester, there is a temporary principal, everyone is recovering from a school tragedy, etc.

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