One in four Australian kids are being bullied repeatedly

How can parents spot the signs?

A quarter of Australian kids report they’ve been bullied repeatedly and half say they’ve experienced bullying at least once.

So how can parents know if there’s a problem – and when to step in?

“It is important children are not left to sort out bullying on their own as it can be devastating for a child’s confidence and self-esteem,” said Associate Professor Julie Green, Executive Director of the evidence-based Australian parenting website

“If parents are aware their child is being bullied they can take steps together with other key people, for example teachers, to quickly stop it. There is no single way to tell if your child is being bullied if they don’t tell you, but there are some social, emotional and physical signs parents and carers can look out for.”

Bullying is not always obvious to parents. Key signs can include:

  • bruises, cuts and scratches
  • poor eating and sleeping
  • not wanting to go to school
  • bedwetting
  • avoiding social events
  • complaints about headaches or stomach aches
  • missing property
  • torn clothing.

“You might notice your child might seem unusually anxious, upset, nervous, teary, withdrawn or secretive and these behaviours become more pronounced at the end of the weekend or holidays, when the child has to go back to school. Listen to what your child has to tell you and make it clear that you will help,” Associate Professor Green said.

It can be difficult to know for sure if a child is being bullied but talking about bullying within families is one of the best ways to help and protect children.

“Days like today’s National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence are an important opportunity to start a conversation at home about bullying, why it’s not OK, and how we can support children on this issue,” Professor Green said. has more tips on talking with children about bullying, how to recognise bullying, working with the school, as well as information on what to do if parents suspect their child is a bully.

The site, visited by more than 50,000 parents a day, offers free articles, videos and other resources backed by Australian experts.

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Save the date: two-day forum on supporting parents with a mental illness

Learn more about evidence-based practice in supporting families where a parent has a mental illness at this two-day forum in Melbourne, March 1 and 2. Key international researchers in the field will present their latest work and the Parenting Research Centre will present findings from a major program, Let’s Talk about Children, that has engaged more than 300 Victorian families.

Let’s Talk about Children is a strengths-based program for parents attending mental health and family support services. During our four-year randomised controlled trial of the program we worked with more than 30 organisations and trained more than 500 adult mental health practitioners and family service workers, covering most regions of Victoria. At the forum we will highlight outcomes for parents and children of the program and share what we have learned about the implementation process in this service sector.

The March forum – Best Practice/Next Practice – is hosted by the Parenting Research Centre, Monash University, the Victorian State Government and the Bouverie Centre. It will also include:

  • A showcase of the system change achieved through the Victorian Government FaPMI (Families where a parent has a mental illness) program
  • Panel discussions on implementation issues and practice-based evidence.

Download the flyer or register your interest online.

New National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health goes live

Emerging Minds: the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health is now live and available to support clinical and non-clinical professionals working with families dealing with child mental health issues. We’re excited to join the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian National University as partners in this initiative, which has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

The Emerging Minds Workforce Centre website will act as a gateway to free evidence-based resources, information, news and innovative online training. The web hub will be updated regularly with new information and resources as materials and courses are in constant development.

A team of child mental health consultants will also work at a state and regional level to help organisations, team leaders and local champions use the workforce development learning products and resources it creates.

Emerging Minds recognises that the best way to support infant and child mental health is through early intervention and prevention. This is why the Emerging Minds Workforce Centre will focus on building the capacity and strength of the workforce – so professionals can better support parents, who in turn will support the mental health outcomes of infants and children.

  • Explore the training opportunities already available at Emerging Minds 

Raising Children Network reaches 10-year milestone

2018 marks the Raising Children Network’s second decade of providing trusted, evidence-based information for Australian parents.

Raising Children Network held its 10th birthday celebrations late last year at Parliament House Canberra. The event, launched by Minister for Education and Training Simon Birminham, showcased achievements to an audience of more than 60 MPs, policymakers and colleagues from NGOs and industry.

In the past year alone the site has had more than 14 million visitors and produced 700 new and updated resources to ensure the information provided to families stays relevant. New articles include resources for same sex parents and families dealing with domestic violence.

Skill-building program a beacon for vulnerable families

An evidence-based parenting program being piloted in Australia through the NSW Department of Family and Community Services is showing great potential in keeping vulnerable families together.

SafeCare® was developed a decade ago by the National SafeCare Training & Research Center, Georgia State University, and has been shown to reduce child neglect and harm by 26 per cent. It is now being piloted in seven sites across NSW. The Parenting Research Centre is working with the Department and trial sites to implement the program, which has already been adopted in the US, Britain, Canada, Spain and Israel.

More than 60 NSW families have already taken part in the Blacktown, Nepean and Cumberland areas of Sydney.

Building skills

“SafeCare® is not just about giving advice. It’s about teaching specific skills to address parenting challenges and having the support to master a skill,” said Annette Michaux, a Director at the Parenting Research Centre.

"It really has potential to keep families together safely and help parents with quite complex needs. Raising children is a skill which needs to be learned. It doesn't just come naturally and for some of us learning that skill is a little bit harder.”

Ms Michaux said the program was backed by rigorous research and had been tested over many years with promising results for families where children were at risk of child abuse and neglect.

One-on-one parent interaction

SafeCare® trains practitioners to support parents one-on-one in enhancing their positive interactions with children, keeping their homes safe and improving their children’s health.

Over the past year we began working with the National SafeCare Training & Research Centre in the US to become an accredited SafeCare training and coaching organisation as part of the NSW implementation of SafeCare. Once our staff are accredited, these agencies will be able to access local, high-quality SafeCare coaching support.