As parents, we want our children to grow up happy and confident; not filled with self-doubt and anxiety. Bullying in all its forms - online, in school or the street, cruel words or physical acts - can threaten, even destroy, our children's often fragile self-esteem.
Ahead of Anti-Bullying Week (18 - 22 November) Parentdish decided to launch a survey with our partner, the anti-bullying charity BeatBullying.
Parentdish asked parents about their experience of their children being bullied while BeatBullying asked the children themselves online, 'inviting them to tell parents and adults what you really think'.
The worst case of bullying
The results are shocking, showing that bullying can be so much more than name calling. Parents reported concerted bullying campaigns and physical violence in response to the question what is the worst case of bullying your child has experienced?
However, we were inundated with responses from both parents and children, showing the sheer determination both adults and young people have to help stop bullying and support those who have been a target.
Some of the parents' responses:
'Physically tied up, assaulted, clothes torn and mentally and verbally abused by a malicious gang of girls.'
'Prolonged & sustained low level bullying over a 12 month period from all the girls in her year at primary school, leading to total isolation, very low self esteem, night terrors and severe depression.'
'Physical and mental abuse to the extreme where he has such levels of anxiety that he no longer attends school and wanted to kill himself.'
The children's responses were also shocking. Physical bullying was by far the most common type described, but many respondents also pointed to verbal threats. Several respondents had also experienced cyber bullying, and others had endured racist or homophobic bullying.
'Verbal is for me the worst because things were said to me that I will never forget. All the bullying that was inflicted on me was bad though and I felt powerless against it. It resulted it me self harming and being depressed. I was broken.'
'Hitting, kicking, spitting at me, pulling me by my hair across the playground, Breaking my fingers and my foot.'
'I'd get things thrown at me including food, stationery, lumps of ice, bottles and rocks.'
Most important piece of bullying advice - tell someone
Although bullying may still be rife - despite anti-bullying campaigns in schools - the good news is that both parents and children were agreed that their one piece of advice would be to tell someone and not suffer in silence.
While parents' responses were the simple 'tell someone', children's responses were more detailed - and poignant.
'Don't ever think you are alone because people care.'
'Just remember this you are you and no one can change that, never let someone take you down to their level, aspire to achieve great things in life! Be you, be true and be happy.'
'Even if you've been threatened into keeping secret about any kind of abuse or bullying, tell an adult who you trust.'
'You're still a wonderful person, and nobody can take that away. Those words will hurt, but they won't be true.'
Talk to a parent
The second positive to come from our research was that parents felt confident talking to their children about bullying - an overwhelming 93.3%.
Tamsin Kelly, editor of Parentdish.co.uk and a mother-of-three, said: 'It is shocking that children are experiencing the levels of brutality and cruelty detailed in our survey.
'For anyone who suggests that 'bullying is just part of life', I'd invite them to read some of these heart-breaking responses and ask themselves is that really what anyone would want their child to go through?
'On a more positive note, our survey shows that children and parents are on the same page on how to deal with bullying - to tell someone, not suffer in silence and remember that being a victim of bullying is never ever their fault.'
Emma-Jane Cross, CEO and founder of BeatBullying said:
"What's great is that so many of the young people we spoke to had fantastic advice that we would definitely agree with.
"However, sadly much of that advice comes from negative experiences, and too many are still experiencing violent and cruel bullying at school, on the streets or online.
"The words of these young people should be a wake-up call for parents, teachers and policymakers alike. We cannot let children continue to face this threat alone."
My top tips for young people worried about bullying:
1. The young people and parents we spoke to are absolutely right. Our number one piece of advice is to talk to someone. Don't suffer in silence – whether it's a teacher, parent or another trusted adult, or even one of our young BeatBullying mentors
2. Similarly, if you are being bullied online, always report anything abusive you see online to the site concerned. Flag it, report it, and talk to someone about it.
3. Many of the young people we spoke to had experienced physical bullying. If you're worried that this might happen to you, try not to isolate yourself. Stay around friends or in places that are public or well supervised by staff. And if the bullying happens in a certain place, e.g. the toilets, try your best to avoid that place.
4. Another piece of advice that many young people gave was 'don't retaliate'. We agree – while it may be tempting, it can often make things worse and could land you in trouble.
5. Finally, one 16-year-old girl said it best: "Don't ever think you are alone because people care". Remember that you are not alone and that support is available for you. I'd urge any young person who is worried about bullying to visit www.BeatBullying.org today where young people like you are there to give advice and support.