STRUGGLING: Parents need support in the fight against bullying.
STRUGGLING: Parents need support in the fight against bullying. airdone

DESPERATE: Parents of bullied children cry for help

HER daughter was seconds away from devastating self harm when Jenny Topp discovered the teenager broken down on her bedroom floor, driven there by the cruelty of bullies.

Just 14 at the time, Samantha Brodie had been shown a screenshot of a Facebook conversation where bullies were saying she deserved to be bashed and they hoped she died next time.

Mrs Topp yelled at her daughter to stop and drove her straight to hospital, on one of the darkest days the pair has shared in their relentless quest to overcome bullying.

"Everything just froze. I just had to get her away from everything," Mrs Topp said.

Mrs Topp was desperate for help and sought it through every channel she could think of, but no one seemed to be able to step up.

"It felt like even though she was a victim she was never going to be listened to," she said.

"They were more interested in shoving it under the carpet than dealing with it, or that's how it felt to me."

"I had a 15-year-old who couldn't walk down town to buy a bottle of milk because she could get attacked," she said.

Mrs Topp said staying strong for Sam was incredibly important and in the end it was friends and family who helped the most.

"If I wasn't strong for Sam, she couldn't be strong for herself," she said.

Warwick counselling psychologist Mark Cary said parents "could feel as helpless as their child" in cases of bullying.

"When a child is being bullied, it creates a high level of stress and many parents report they become anxious and sometimes depressed," he said.

"It's a parent's nature to protect and support their child so they'll double their efforts to help them.

"But they need to cope themselves to be able to help their child cope, which is why often getting professional help for themselves as well as their child is a good idea," he said.

He said parents needed to remain strong models for their children as they experienced a traumatic time.

"Being able to cope yourself lifts the child's ability to cope as well," Mr Cary said.

His advice for parents who suspect their child may be having a hard time with bullies was to open the lines of communication with their child and get to the root of the problem.

"It's really important to watch for the signs because they may not tell you they're getting bullied," Mr Cary said.

"But once you find out it is bullying, you need to know what type of bullying. If it's physical, cyber, social etc, because different forms of bullying require different strategies."

He said if it was happening at school, parents should work with the school on a solution and if it was cyber bullying or physical assault, the police were the best contact.

Seeking professional advice from a counsellor or psychologist was the next step to ensure coping strategies were established.

Mrs Topp said parents of bullied children needed to open up to others.

"Talk to anyone and everyone, anyone who will listen because someone will have someone will have advice that works," she said.

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or visit Lifeline.org.au.



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