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  • Australian parents are crying out for more help to tackle and prevent childhood bullying

    Author: AAP

Parents of bullied children are suffering from physical illness, depression, anxiety and guilt, with researchers calling for a more inclusive approach.

Australian parents are crying out for more help to tackle and prevent childhood bullying, with new research finding it's not just the child who suffers but the entire family.

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Parents of bullied children are suffering from physical illness, depression, anxiety and guilt, as 20 per cent of families report their child was bullied in the last school term.

The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne's poll of 1575 parents on childhood bullying found while there is a good understanding of bullying and the resources available to tackle it, 89 per cent of parents of bullied children said the experience had impacted the entire family.

Paediatrician Dr Anthea Rhodes says bullying is not just a schoolyard problem, it's a whole community problem and many parents are feeling out of their depth.

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"The vast majority of parents told us bulling affected not just their child but their whole family and there is a ripple effect when a child is bullied that impacts on everyone around them," she told AAP on Wednesday.

"Frequently parents told us they felt helpless, guilty, sometimes physically sick and it might affect their own mental health, and even bring up experiences they had themselves in the past."

Dr Rhodes said social media had exacerbated bullying and often parents found it difficult to keep up with the technology and social media channels used by the children.

"They feel a little bit unskilled, they don't know what's going on and they don't know where to start," she said.

"Parents need to have an important role and that might involve an upskilling of themselves."

Dr Rhodes said although there are many resources available to deal with bullying, what's required is a strategy that takes in effects on parents and supports the entire family in both the school and community as they deal with the problem.

"At a policy level, we need to have a whole of community approach, where from the outset, when a school is having a campaign to tackle bullying, there is an understanding that it involves the whole community and that parents play a role in it," she said.

"If education and communication is being directed towards students, it should also be directed towards the parents."

ROYAL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL MELBOURNE'S NATIONAL CHILD HEALTH POLL AT A GLANCE

* 48 per cent worried about the long-term effects of bullying on their child

* 44 per cent were angry and frustrated with their inability to help their child

* 32 per cent felt guilty for not being able to stop the bullying

* 28 per cent felt helpless

* 23 per cent believe bullying a "big problem" at their children's school

* 20 per cent felt depressed or anxious

* 16.5 per cent had felt physically sick

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