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This guidance has been created to be used within any community where children and young people live, work, learn or enjoy recreational time.

All children and young people living, working, being educated or socialising in Greater Manchester have the right to go about their daily lives without the fear of being threatened, assaulted or harassed. Greater Manchester is committed to providing safe environments for children and young people, and therefore to addressing bullying behaviour effectively so that the incidence of all forms of bullying is minimised.

No one should underestimate the impact that bullying has on young people's lives. It can cause high levels of distress, affecting children and young people's wellbeing, behaviour and social development right through into adulthood. When bullying is brought to our attention, prompt and effective action must be taken.

Children and young people exhibiting bullying behaviour need to be held accountable for their actions by being given opportunities to learn about the impact of their behaviour on others, to make efforts to repair the damage they have caused and to change their behaviour. Those on the receiving end of bullying need to be confident that the bullying behaviour will stop and that they can feel safe in their own environment; they may also need help in restoring the balance of power between them and the person/group of people responsible for the bullying.

All young people are affected whether they witness or exhibit bullying behaviour or fall victim to it. They need appropriate emotional and practical ongoing support during and following the incidents of bullying.

Bullying can take place anywhere in our community. Addressing bullying is therefore not just an issue for schools, but also for parents and carers, all organisations working with children and young people, and the wider community. This guidance aims to support a joint approach, to addressing bullying, wherever and whenever it involves children and young people.

Under the Children Act 1989 a bullying incident should be addressed as a child protection concern when there is 'reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm'.

Although bullying in itself is not a specific criminal offence in the UK, some types of harassing or threatening behaviour – or communications – could be a criminal offence.

This guidance is intended to supplement and support the work of all Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships in Greater Manchester.

A definition of bullying is as follows:

"Behaviour by an individual or group usually repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group physically or emotionally".

Bullying is therefore:

  • Repetitive and persistent. Bullying is usually experienced as part of a continuous pattern and it can be extremely threatening and intimidating even when very subtle. Nevertheless, sometimes a single incident can have precisely the same impact as persistent behaviour over time;
  • Intentionally harmful. The act of bullying intends harm to another individual although occasionally the distress it causes is not consciously intended by all of those who are present;
  • Involves an imbalance of power. Bullying leaves someone feeling helpless to prevent it or put a stop to it. In some cases an imbalance of power may mean that bullying crosses the threshold into abuse. This would require implementation of safeguarding procedures.

An Ofsted thematic review (Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges (Ofsted, June 2021)) identified substantial levels of sexual harassment for both girls (90%) and boys (nearly 50%) – usually in unsupervised settings. Sexual harassment and sexual violence exist on a continuum and may overlap. Where the latter occurs, there could be a criminal offence committed.

Good anti-bullying policies and training for all staff should detail the different forms of bullying that children and young people may experience, as understanding the nature of bullying is the starting point for effective detection and response.

Bullying can take various forms and includes the following types of behaviour:

  • Pushing, kicking, hitting, punching, spitting, hair pulling or any use of physical;
  • Violence;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Making people do things they don't want to do;
  • Stopping people doing things they want to do;
  • Damaging someone's belongings;
  • Taking someone else's belongings e.g. mobile phones or money - the threat of violence very often accompanies thefts from persons and there can be clear instances of extortion focused on weaker pupils.
  • Name-calling and other unpleasant language is wide and usually focuses on someone's appearance, personal hygiene, family or ability;
  • Sarcasm, teasing, mocking, "put- downs";
  • Spreading rumours;
  • Saying or writing nasty things;
  • Blackmail and threats;
  • Making offensive remarks including comments about someone's gender, race, disability, religion or sexual orientation - this form of bullying is also discriminatory behaviour that may be unlawful.
  • Being unfriendly, not talking to someone;
  • Excluding from social groups and activities;
  • Tormenting (e.g. hiding books), making someone feel uncomfortable or scared;
  • Using threatening gestures, looks and signs/symbols.

3.4.1 What is Cyber bullying?

Cyber bullying is when one person or a group of people aim to torment, threaten, harass, humiliate, embarrass or otherwise target another person by using the internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.

3.4.2 Different forms of Cyber bullying:


Sending emails that can be threatening or upsetting. E-mails can be sent directly to a single target or to a group of people to encourage them to become part of the bullying. These messages or 'hate mails' can include examples of racism, sexism and other types of prejudice.

Instant messenger and chat rooms

Sending instant messenger and chat room messages to friends or direct to a victim. Others can be invited into the bullying conversation; they then become part of it by laughing.

Social networking sites

Setting up profiles on social networking sites to make fun of someone. By visiting these pages or contributing to them, you become part of the problem and add to the feelings of unhappiness felt by the victim.

Mobile phone

Sending humiliating and abusive text or video messages, as well as photo messages and phone calls over a mobile phone. This includes anonymous text messages over short distances using Bluetooth technology and sharing videos of physical attacks on individuals (happy slapping).

Interactive gaming

Games consoles allow players to chat online with anyone they find themselves matched with in a multi-player game. Sometimes cyber bullies abuse other players and use threats.

They can also lock victims out of games, spread false rumours about someone or hack into someone's account.

Sending viruses

Some people send viruses or hacking programs to another person that can destroy their computers or delete personal information from their hard drive.

Abusing personal information

Many victims of cyber bullying have complained that they have seen personal photos, emails or "blog" postings posted where others could see it without their permission.

Social networking sites make it a lot easier for web users to get hold of personal information and photos of people. They can also get hold of someone else's messaging accounts and chat to people pretending to be the victim.

The Ofsted Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges recognised a wide variety of behaviours that children and young people told (them) happened online including:

  • Receiving unsolicited explicit photographs or videos, for example 'dick pics';
  • Sending, or being pressured to send, nude and semi-nude photographs or videos ('nudes');
  • Being sent or shown solicited or unsolicited online explicit material, such as pornographic videos.

Sexting is a term which many young people do not recognise or use, therefore it is important that when discussing the risks of this type of behaviour with children and young people the behaviour is accurately explained.

Sexting (some children and young people consider this to mean 'writing and sharing explicit messages with people they know' rather than sharing youth-produced sexual images) or sharing nudes and semi-nudes are terms used when a person under the age of 18 shares sexual, naked or semi-naked images or videos of themselves or others or sends sexually explicit messages.

3.4.3 Policies in schools regarding cyber bullying

Behaviour/anti-bullying policies should make it clear that the use of intimidating or defamatory messages/images both inside and outside of the school will not be tolerated. It should be stated clearly that in order to combat cyber bullying, schools will work with both the police and mobile phone network/internet service providers.

The Department for Education have issued guidance for school staff and parents and carers on how to recognise signs of cyberbullying and support children who are being bullied in this way, see Preventing bullying (DfE).

Keeping Children Safe in Education notes that with regard to sexual harassment, all staff working with children are advised to maintain an attitude of 'it could happen here' and must respond to all reports and concerns about sexual violence and/or sexual harassment, including online behaviour and incidents that have happened outside of the school/college.

Keeping Children Safe in Education provides that:

All staff should recognise that children are capable of abusing their peers (including online). All staff should be clear about their school's or college's policy and procedures with regard to child on child abuse.

Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that their child protection policy includes:

  • Procedures to minimise the risk of child on child abuse;
  • The systems in place (and they should be well promoted, easily understood and easily accessible) for children to confidently report abuse, knowing their concerns will be treated seriously;
  • How allegations of child on child abuse will be recorded, investigated and dealt with;
  • Clear processes as to how victims, perpetrators and any other children affected by child on child abuse will be supported;
  • A recognition that even if there are no reported cases of child on child abuse, such abuse may still be taking place and is simply not being reported;
  • A statement which makes clear there should be a zero-tolerance approach to abuse, and it should never be passed off as “banter”, “just having a laugh”, “part of growing up” or “boys being boys” as this can lead to a culture of unacceptable behaviours and an unsafe environment for children;
  • Recognition that it is more likely that girls will be victims and boys' perpetrators, but that all child on child abuse is unacceptable and will be taken seriously; and

The different forms child on child abuse can take, such as:

  • Bullying (including cyberbullying, prejudice-based and discriminatory bullying);
  • Abuse in intimate personal relationships between peers;
  • Physical abuse;
  • Sexual violence and sexual harassment.

Adults within our community may also be subject to bullying. This bullying may be by another adult in the same way as children bully other children, but there are also situations where an adult may be bullied by a child or a group of children.

Examples of this form of bullying are

  • Name-calling;
  • Using threatening gestures and signs/symbols;
  • Misuse of technology, e.g. camera and video facilities used to record "happy slapping" and assaults.

When the context is of an adult being bullied by a child or group of children, the response will be similar to that applying to child-to-child bullying, i.e. the safety and support of the victim will be the primary concern whilst the behaviour of the bully/bullies is challenged and addressed.

Agencies need to adopt firm measures to protect staff from bullying by children and young people both on and off site. When facing bullying off site, staff need to be made aware that they have the same rights of protection from threats as any citizen in a public place and that their first concern must be for their personal safety.

Staff should be advised to:

Make it known to the child or children that they have been recognised. Use their judgement as to how best to get away safely from the situation without escalating the confrontation. The agency should then address the bullying with the child(ren) when they are next present. Agencies should also liaise with the police and the Youth Offending Team as to which off site bullying behaviours would result in a referral to the police.

Consideration should be given to the views and wishes of the victim and their parents in these circumstances.

Children who are involved in bullying adults or children may be Children in Need and consideration should be given to assessment through Early Help Assessment and normal referral processes.

Vulnerable adult victims should be referred to Adult Safeguarding through the relevant inter agency procedures for the area where the alleged bullying occurred.

Policies and procedures should be in place to enable any child who is being bullied by any adult to report this to a trusted a trusted adult within the school/agency. The relevant procedures should be implemented immediately, with support arrangements in place for the child victim whilst the allegation is being investigated.

When a complaint relates to an adult employed by or accredited as a volunteer by any public, private or voluntary agency and who is entrusted with the care or control of a child or has contact with a child in the course of their work, who has:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child;
  • Behaved towards a child in a way that indicates (s)he is unsuitable to work with children (which may include allegations of bullying from a child against an adult).

Then the incident should be reported to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and the Managing Allegations of Abuse Made Against Adults Who Work with Children and Young People Procedure should be followed.

Identifying children who are likely to be vulnerable to bullying is problematic. At both policy and practical level there should be a clear message that no-one ever deserves to be bullied - it is not the victim's fault.

Some children and young people seem to be more susceptible to being bullied and may need additional support. Staff in all agencies should be aware of who these children are and consider their specific needs.

Children and young people who fall into this category include those who:

  • Have a physical disability and/or learning difficulty;
  • Have experienced abuse or neglect;
  • Are, or have been, Looked After;
  • Have witnessed domestic violence and abuse;
  • Are refugees or asylum seekers;
  • Are members of faith communities (in particular those who wear clothing that marks them out as members of their faith);
  • Are members of the travelling community;
  • Are lesbian, bisexual, gay transgender, or those who are questioning their identity;
  • Are young carers;
  • Are overweight;
  • Have other physical or linguistic characteristics that are perceived to be different from the norm;
  • Have transferred schools, in particular mid-year; have had long periods of illness or spent extended time overseas;
  • Have low self-esteem;
  • Lack self-confidence;
  • Are isolated or socially excluded;
  • Live in families perceived as 'different' from the norm.
  • Looked After children and young people do not necessarily consider that being in care equates to greater levels of bullying. However, it is important to note that high numbers of Looked After children report either being victims or perpetrators of bullying;
  • Looked After children say that they truant from school because of the stress of being bullied at school;
  • Looked After children often transfer into school at times when other pupils are already settled. They consider that arriving in a new school in mid-term following home placement changes or exclusions increases their vulnerability to incidents of bullying;
  • Some Looked After children reported that they were treated different to other pupils by teachers and schools and felt "scapegoated" because they are looked after;
  • Children recognised the value of good friendships in making them feel safe. Being looked after often meant leaving their home area and friends and having to start again. Making new friends in a new school was seen as a problem;
  • Children who stand out as different in some way are easy targets. Looked After children are concerned about anything that emphasised difference such as not wearing the right uniform. A change in placement particularly if it is a part-time place also serves to emphasise their difference from the majority increasing the likelihood of bullying.

The Children's Commissioner for England has expressed concern about bullying experienced by young people who are already vulnerable and in the public care system. Advice includes:

  • Identifying vulnerable children and young people at those critical moments and transitions when they become vulnerable and providing additional support when needed;
  • Engaging children and young people in learning about difference and social diversity.

Traveller families have been universally stigmatised and treated with hostility by the majority culture. They are commonly perceived as a problem by the settled community. Such attitudes give rise to concern for the experiences of traveller children.

Staff in schools do not always recognise traveller children as targets for racist bullying because they are white. Staff need to know that both Irish and Romany travellers are covered by the Equality Act 2010 and be aware of the requirement to record and report racist incidents in respect of traveller children.

Traveller children may not start at the beginning of a school year when it is likely that class rules and anti-bullying policies are being revisited. They may need specific introduction to both of these areas and to be told how and to whom to make a complaint within school.

Widespread discrimination in the community can make the world a frightening place. As a result there can be a tendency to over react to situations or take pre-emptive action which then results in traveller children being classed as the bully/ troublemaker.

Traveller children want to be included by both peers and staff without having to reject their own culture.

Investigation of incidents and a willingness to believe that traveller children are telling the truth are vital to resolving incidents.

Children with disabilities/special needs do not always have the levels of social competence and confidence, and the robust friendship bonds that can protect against bullying.

The key duties of schools are:

  • Not to treat disabled pupils less favourably; and
  • To make reasonable adjustments to avoid putting disabled pupils at a substantial disadvantage.

One example of the steps which a school can take related to bullying is to ensure that the policy on bullying addresses links to disability, as well as other forms of bullying. Where there is discriminatory bullying, the underlying attitudes and values that are informing the behaviour need to be addressed on a whole school basis.

Staff and volunteers need to be aware of those children who may be vulnerable to bullying because of their individual needs and should ensure they are provided with appropriate means of support. Children with special needs and disabilities may not always have the communication skills to report, effectively and in detail, specific incidents of being bullied and will need specific assistance with this.

Bullying can be a barrier to learning for some children who will not be able to learn effectively because of the social and emotional effects of the learning difficulty and disability. However, schools which have managed to develop an inclusive culture, policies and practices will be better able to combat negative attitudes to learning difficulties and disability by celebrating and valuing the success of all pupils. This fosters mutual respect and raises the self esteem of pupils who have special educational needs.

Gifted and talented children and young people can suffer from bullying because they "stand out from the crowd" - particularly those who are very able.

The problem with being labelled gifted and talented is not considered to be the label itself but rather the way other people perceive it and use it. Peers, family and others they come into contact with including some education staff give some children and young people who are gifted or talented negative labels. Hurtful comments and unpleasant nicknames do nothing to promote feelings of belonging, popularity or acceptance.

It would be wrong to assume that because a child or young person has strengths in a particular area (for example academic ability) that they will be able to ignore bullying behaviour or defend themselves against it. It takes determination and practice to refuse to allow others to destroy self-esteem.

When faced with bullying and harassment some gifted and talented children and young people may choose to under perform in order to be accepted by their peers and in an attempt to stop the harassment they are experiencing.

Staff and volunteers working with children and young people are advised not to take the inclusion of gifted and talented children and young people for granted and to sensitively deal with noted drop in performance or other indicators that bullying may be occurring.

Some children will become vulnerable to bullying because they provide care to someone in their family who has a disability, an illness, a substance misuse problem or a mental health problem.

Research has revealed the difficulties that young carers face alongside physical tiredness, emotional stress and ill-health.

Staff in schools can help by:

  • Being alert to signs that someone may be a young carer;
  • Knowing what support structures and services are available;
  • Listening to young carers and being sensitive to their needs, whilst respecting any desire on the part of the young carer to keep their family situation as private as possible;
  • Providing opportunities in school time to complete homework;
  • Providing agreed access to a telephone;
  • Understanding that each individual has their own differing needs and requirements.

Racism means that an individual considers that they have been abused and harassed because of their race, colour or beliefs. Racist words and behaviour are attacks on the values, commitments and loyalties central to the person's sense of identity and self-worth.

A distinctive feature of a racist insult or violence is that the person is offended not only as an individual but as a representative of their family, community, or group.

Other members of the family, community or group will feel threatened, intimidated or marginalised as well as the individual.

People who commit racist attacks often see themselves as acting on behalf of a wider community.

Britain is a multi-racial and multi-faith country in which everyone has an equal right to have their culture and religion respected by others. Schools can positively influence the attitudes and behaviour of children and young people on race and racism.

When dealing with racist incidents, schools are advised to address:

  • The feelings, needs and wishes of the child or young person who was abused and of their parents or carers. The school should be aware of the previous experiences of ethnic minority children and young people, and particularly asylum seekers, which may influence their reaction to any racist incidents;
  • The behaviour of the children and young people principally responsible for the bullying;
  • The involvement of any supporters, bystanders or witnesses.

Homophobic bullying is a problem that young people may face whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight. Young people subject to homophobic bullying must know they will be given confidentiality and access to appropriate advice.

Homophobic behaviour can start in the early years of primary school, when children frequently misuse words such as "gay" as a generic insult or term of abuse. Comments that question others' masculinity or femininity, as well as those that refer directly to sexuality, is also frequent and damaging. All children settings particularly in early year's settings and primary schools are ideally placed to challenge homophobia because they make a significant contribution to the development of attitudes and values in young children that are likely to be resistant to change in later life.

Teachers should be able to deal honestly and sensitively with sexual orientation, answer appropriate questions, offer support, and be able to deal with homophobic bullying.

It should be recognised that lesbian and gay pupils may find it more difficult to report bullying as this could involve 'coming out' when they are not yet ready to do so.

Sexist and sexual bullying affects both genders. Boys may be victims as well as girls, and both sexes may be victims of their own sex. Sexual bullying may be characterised by name calling, comments and overt "looks" about appearance, attractiveness and emerging puberty. In addition, uninvited touching, innuendos and propositions, pornographic imagery or graffiti may be used.

Pupils identifying as transgender or experiencing gender dysphoria (feeling that they belong to another gender or do not conform with the gender role prescribed to them) can also be targeted by bullies.

Upskirting, which involves taking a picture under a person's clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification, or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm; is a specific example of abusive behaviour which has been linked to online bullying and grooming. Upskirting is a criminal offence and should be reported to the Police.

Children and young people's behaviour is influenced by a number of factors that include their overall development, their environment and the behaviour they learn from adults who care for them.

Bullying behaviour can be triggered by a number of factors, which may include:

  • Beliefs, values and prejudices;
  • Emotional or behavioural disorders affected by personal and home circumstances including witnessing or being subject to abuse and/or neglect;
  • Difficulty in using social and emotional skills e.g. lack of empathy, low self-esteem, underdeveloped ability to resolve conflict/problems through discussion;
  • Family influences e.g. parental modelling of bullying behaviour, parents encouraging their children to respond aggressively to conflict in an effort to prevent them from being bullied.

There is evidence to suggest that a significant number of young offenders have prior involvement in incidents of bullying, either as the harmed or the harmer. Many of the risk factors identified in connection with offending behaviour are similar to the triggers of bullying behaviour described above:

Some young people may be bully/victims, i.e. they may display bullying behaviour, but have also been harmed by bullying. They appear to be the most troubled, as they are likely to have the highest level of conduct, school and peer-related problems, and are considered to be the most at-risk group. They are more likely to be persistent absentees, act out or suffer from psychiatric conditions.

Young people who bully are likely to look for situations where they know that they are more likely to be unobserved at times and in places where there is little or no supervision by adults e.g. parks, transport hubs, shopping centres, streets, less busy parts of school grounds. They usually target young people who are less likely to be protected by their friends or other young people.

A child or young person usually gives an indication that things are not going well for them, usually through a change in their behaviour or emotional state. Sometimes this change may be a result of being bullied. The list below details changes in behaviour, one or more of which may be displayed by children and young people who are victims of bullying.

Children and young people may:

  • Lack concentration on school work or begin to perform poorly at school;
  • Be intermittently absent from school;
  • Be reluctant to walk to or from school or to any place that they may normally go; wanting a lift or wanting you to come with them;
  • Want to change their usual routine;
  • Be reluctant to talk about school;
  • Not want to leave the house;
  • Want to move or change schools;
  • Become withdrawn, anxious or lacking in confidence;
  • Lose, increase or change in appetite;
  • Become aggressive, disruptive or unreasonable;
  • Have unexplained cuts, bruises or other injuries;
  • Complain of headaches/stomach aches frequently;
  • Start to stammer, when they did not do this before;
  • Cry themselves to sleep, change their sleeping pattern or have nightmares;
  • Start bedwetting;
  • Cry or get angry with no clear explanation;
  • Attempt or threaten to commit suicide or run away;
  • Come home with torn clothes;
  • Have possessions that are damaged or 'go missing';
  • Ask for or steal money on a regular basis (to pay the bully) or come home hungry because dinner money has been taken;
  • Bully other children or siblings;
  • Be afraid to tell you what's wrong;
  • Be afraid to use the internet or mobile phone (when previously this was not the case) or be nervous or jumpy when cyber messages are received;
  • Become clingy towards their parent or carer;
  • Have a sudden change in social group, i.e. does not wish to talk about or play with certain friends give improbable excuses for any of the above.

A bystander is 'a person who does not become actively involved in a situation where someone else requires help' (Clarkson 1996, p6) and in this way is understood to be a passive observer, an onlooker who watches something happening, but stays on the sidelines and doesn't intervene or get help, even if someone needs it. Bystanders are those people who slow down to look at a traffic accident, but don't stop to offer assistance, the people who watch an argument on the street, and the crowd that gathers to watch a playground fight. They are the audience that engages in the spectacle, and watches as a drama unfolds. Though they don't actively participate, they encourage the perpetrators, who will feel driven on by the audience.

Bystanding is not passive; witnesses to bullying play very different roles, some more active than others, and these contribute significantly to what takes place. 'Doing nothing' does have a real impact on events and may cause harm.

Some children and young people who are bullied can experience the effects of bullying in the short-term, but with minor intervention and support the effects may be alleviated. Others may experience problems that are more concerning, serious or extended and will need more comprehensive longer-term intervention to support and enable them to adapt and to move on to a positive pathway. Some people who are harmed by bullying may not experience any effects until some time after the incident. Bystanders may also be affected by what they have witnessed, as well as families of young people involved in bullying - either through them showing bullying behaviour or being harmed by it.

The experience of being bullied can end up causing lasting damage to victims. This is both self-evident, and also supported by an increasing body of research. It is not necessary to be physically harmed in order to suffer lasting harm. Words and gestures are quite enough. For the most part, physical damage sustained in a fist fight heals readily, especially damage that is sustained during the resilient childhood years. What is far more difficult to mend is the primary wound that bullying victims suffer which is damage to their self-concepts; to their identities. Bullying is an attempt to instil fear and self-loathing. Being the target of bullying damages your ability to view yourself as a desirable, capable and an effective individual.

The following list summarises some of the effects bullying victims may experience:

In the short term:

  • Anger;
  • Depression;
  • Anxious avoidance of settings in which bullying may occur;
  • Greater incidence of illness;
  • Lower grades than non-bullied peers;
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings.

In the long term:

  • Reduced occupational opportunities;
  • Lingering feelings of anger and bitterness, desire for revenge;
  • Difficulty trusting people;
  • Interpersonal difficulties, including fear and avoidance of new social situations;
  • Increased tendency to be a loner;
  • Perception of self as easy to victimize, overly sensitive, and thin-skinned;
  • Self-esteem problems (don't think well of self);
  • Increased incidence of continued bullying and victimization.

It would be virtually impossible to eradicate bullying in communities, however by taking a comprehensive and all-round approach it is possible to drastically reduce the number of incidents and improve the wellbeing of children and young people in the community.

Good practice initiatives suggest the following activities are useful tools in efforts to prevent bullying

  • Develop a set of resources available via web links to support prevention programmes across all agencies for parents/carers/children/young people/professionals and families (see Appendix 1: Further Information and Resources for Agencies below);
  • Develop and deliver an annual cross service anti-bullying training programme that is open and accessible to all key partners;
  • Map all the work across services undertaken to prevent or reduce bullying and ensure that all early years settings, schools and youth services are aware of initiatives, support and resources available based upon the needs of children and young people.

Clear guidance and procedures should be given to pupils, staff and parents and carers about what to do if bullying occurs.

Examples of good practice include:

  • Peer support;
  • Circle of Friends;
  • Playground buddies and friendship stops;
  • Organised play;
  • School councils;
  • Suggestion boxes for anonymous reporting;
  • Support at transition;
  • Nurture groups for vulnerable children and young people;
  • Small group work for specific skills including: assertiveness, anger management, resilience skills, and calming and conflict resolution;
  • The use of role play; encouraging co-operative play; use of circle time and the use of puppets to talk/act out feelings for very young children.

In order for this guidance to be effective it is imperative that agencies work together to:

  • Offer training to key staff across agencies in early intervention and mediation;
  • Monitor all requests for transfer and withdrawal from one school to another in relation to possible links to bullying and follow up accordingly;
  • Develop web links to ensure all agencies have easy access to relevant resources.

Professionals in all agencies should be alert to bullying and competent to support and manage both the victim and the abuser. Staff and children should be supported by policies to combat bullying.

The following is just a general guidance on how to develop an anti-bullying policy.

  • Create a working party that will have responsibility for the policy development. The working party will develop key aspects of the policy and communicate with all stakeholders via survey, written or online consultation around what constitutes bullying and how it should be prevented and responded to within your agency/community;
  • The policy should also include how to record and monitor bullying incidents, as well as being a legal requirement it also could be used to help improve anti-bullying practices and decrease bullying incidents in the future;
  • A draft of the policy should then be circulated to all stakeholders for comments and final amendments;
  • Publish and communicate the agreed policy and ensure it becomes an embedded practice throughout your agency/community;
  • Review the policy after one year to see if it has been successful. Use a recording and monitoring tool to identify areas of weakness or strength to help form the review.

Anti-bullying policies need to be developed, written, practised and owned by all agencies. The following is just a guide to what should be included in an Anti-bullying policy:

  • Introduction;
  • Aims;
  • Definition of bullying as agreed by your community;
  • Types of bullying;
  • Preventative Strategies;
  • Responding to a bullying incident including ways to deal with the bully and how to support a child/young person who has been bullied;
  • Recording and Reporting procedures;
  • Monitoring and evaluation;
  • Complaints process.

Data is vital in enabling an organisation to understand the nature and extent of any bullying taking place within it. It can also help an organisation to spot any new trends emerging and develop training and strategies in line with these. All organisations working with children and young people are expected to collect, monitor and analyse data about bullying on a regular basis.

Monitoring is essential to help assess progress and evaluate the impact of the anti-bullying policy. The results will inform planning so that action can be targeted

Surveys can uncover a number of issues including:

  • The frequency of the bullying;
  • The type of bullying;
  • Who young people tell;
  • Any actions taken;
  • Who took action?
  • If young people bully others once they have been bullied.

Issues arising from such surveys should steer further development of the anti-bullying strategy.

Data collection needs to be a routine part of how the organisation works through incidents of bullying. We suggest that the following information be collected on an ongoing basis:

  • Profile of the wrongdoer(s) and the victim(s) (gender identity, age, ethnicity etc.);
  • The nature and type of bullying;
  • The times/locations at which the bullying happened;
  • Strategies used;
  • Outcomes;
  • Additional support arrangements and take-up rates.

Regular monitoring of this data will alert the organisation to any emerging patterns and enable swift action. In particular it may highlight:

  • Bullying 'hotspots' on the organisation's site;
  • Emerging groups - those susceptible to bullying and those exhibiting bullying behaviour;
  • New types of bullying/new language used;
  • Most/least successful anti-bullying strategies;
  • Level of parent/carer involvement;
  • Level of contact with external agencies and support services.

Results from data monitoring make a significant contribution to the organisation's evaluation of its anti-bullying policy and practice. In addition to quantitative data, it is good practice for organisations to find out from young people and adults, via anonymous surveys, about how good they think the organisation is at both preventing bullying and working through incidents when they arise. A mixture of qualitative and quantitative data gives organisations a strong base from which to evaluate and review anti-bullying practice and policy. The Anti-Bullying Alliance has produced a comprehensive audit tool designed for schools that could be adapted by other organisations.

The aims of anti-bullying strategies/policies and intervention systems are:

  • To prevent, de-escalate, and / or stop any continuation of bullying;
  • To react to bullying incidents in a reasonable, proportionate and consistent manner;
  • To safeguard the young person who has experienced bullying, and to trigger sources of support for them;
  • To apply disciplinary sanctions to the young person causing the bullying and ensure they learn from the experience, possibly through multi-agency support.

Any reports of bullying should be taken seriously and acted upon.

Whether the incident is witnessed or reported, prompt action should be taken to ensure the safety of the victim and to challenge and address the behaviour of the bully.

In supporting the victim, actions may include:

  • A staff member talking one to one with the young person in a safe environment in which the young person feels comfortable;
  • Discuss with the young person their preferences for how the issue should be addressed;
  • Discussing strategies for how the young person may deal with the current and potential future bullying incidents;
  • Gaining access to a 'circle of friends' or older pupils trained as peer mentors to whom the victim may turn for help;
  • Providing a safe play area or quiet room for pupils who feel threatened at break times or patrolling the areas where the bullying incident has taken place;
  • Referring the young person for support or therapeutic intervention from relevant agencies;
  • Actively engaging with the young person to assess whether the bullying has stopped and initiating further action if required.

Actions may include:

  • A staff member talking to the young person about their behaviour and the possible reasons for it;
  • Referring the young person for support or therapeutic intervention from relevant agencies;
  • Restorative Justice where they may have to face up to their behaviour, and consider alternate ways of behaving in the resolution of conflict;
  • Discussing strategies for how the young person manages their feelings of anger and frustration;
  • Actively monitoring the young person to assess if the bullying has stopped, and initiating further action if required;
  • Serious incidents of bullying may require the removal of the bully from the class / area; withdrawal of privileges of participation in activities; detention; fixed period exclusion;
  • Involvement of the police where they bullying constitutes a crime.
  • Listening, acknowledging and keeping all parties informed;
  • Involving parents, and engaging with them wherever possible in the response to the bullying, whether their child has been bullied or is accused of bullying;
  • Teaching the young person how to respond to bullying incidents in the future;
  • Work with all those involved, especially the Bystanders, to identify ways of making things better for the victim e.g. Support Group Approach, Circle of Friends, Restorative Justice;
  • Mediation services offered by the local authority or other local organisations;
  • Establishing Safer School Partnerships with local police;
  • Restorative Justices approaches which hold young people to account for their behaviour, and engage with them the actions to be taken to repair the harm caused;
  • Short term monitoring and staged reviews, to see whether the actions taken have prevented the recurrence of bullying, and ensure that the victim feels safe again;
  • A complaints procedure - a legal requirement - which parents are made aware of.

Sanctions should be applied fairly, proportionately, consistently and reasonably, taking into account any special education needs or disabilities that pupils may have, and also taking into account the needs of vulnerable children.

Disciplinary penalties have three main purposes, namely to:

  • Impress on the perpetrator that what they have done is unacceptable;
  • Deter them from repeating the behaviour; and
  • Signal to other young people that the behaviour is unacceptable, and deter them from doing it.

Sanctions are intended to hold young people who bully to account for their behaviour, and ensure that they face up to the harm they have caused and learn from it. They also provide an opportunity for the young person to right the harm they have caused.

In considering how to respond to incidents of bullying, agencies will need to consider:

  • Who will be responsible to respond to reported incidents;
  • The types of follow up action;
  • How to encourage reporting;
  • Support for both victims and bullies that does not stigmatise them;
  • Monitoring procedures to ensure the bullying does not re-occur.

Children frequently do not tell their parents that they are being bullied because they are embarrassed, ashamed, frightened of the children who are bullying them, or afraid of being seen as a "snitch." If your child tells you about being bullied, it has taken a lot of courage to do so. Your child needs your help to stop the bullying.

  1. Look out for signs that your child is being bullied see Section 7.3 Changes in Behaviour Associated With Being a Victim of Bullying;
  2. Responding to what your child tells you;
    • Never tell your child to ignore the bullying. What the child may "hear" is that you are going to ignore it. If the child were able to simply ignore it, they likely would not have told you about it. Often, trying to ignore bullying allows it to become more serious;
    • Don't blame the child who is being bullied. Don't assume that your child did something to provoke the bullying. Don't say, "What did you do to aggravate the other child?";
    • Listen carefully to what your child tells you about the bullying. Ask them to describe who was involved and how and where each bullying episode happened;
    • Learn as much as you can about the bullying tactics used, and when and where the bullying happened. Can your child name other children or adults who may have witnessed the bullying? Keep a diary of any further incidents;
    • Empathise with your child. Tell them that bullying is wrong, not their fault, and that you are glad they had the courage to tell you about it. Ask your child what they think can be done to help. Assure them that you will think about what needs to be done and you will let them know what you are going to do;
    • If you disagree with how your child handled the bullying situation, don't criticise them;
    • Do not encourage physical retaliation ("Just hit them back") as a solution. Hitting another child is not likely to end the problem, and it could get your child suspended or expelled or escalate the situation;
    • Check your emotions. A parent's protective instincts stir strong emotions. Although it is difficult, a parent is wise to step back and consider the next steps carefully;
    • Tell your child about Childline, sometimes children find it easier to talk to their parents after they have contacted Childline;
    • Meet your child after school or community activities, if necessary. Ensure home feels safe for them;
    • Don't ever stop looking for ways to help your child.
  3. Contact your child's teacher or head teacher;
    • Parents are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials, but bullying may not stop without the help of adults;
    • Keep your emotions in check. Give factual information about your child's experience of being bullied including who, what, when, where, and how;
    • Emphasise that you want to work with the staff at school to find a solution to stop the bullying, for the sake of your child as well as other children;
    • Do not contact the parents of the child(ren) who bullied your child. This is usually a parent's first response, but sometimes it makes matters worse. School officials should contact the parents of the child or children who did the bullying;
    • Expect the bullying to stop. Talk regularly with your child and with school staff to see whether the bullying has stopped. If the bullying persists, contact school authorities again.
  4. Help your child become more resilient to bullying;
    • Work on increasing your child's self-esteem through doing things together and praise for effort and positive behaviour;
    • Support new friends and interests (consider skills in martial art to develop confidence);
    • Encourage your child to make contact with friendly children in their class. Your child's teacher may be able to suggest children with whom your child can make friends, spend time, or collaborate on work;
    • Help your child meet new friends outside of the school environment. A new environment can provide a "fresh start" for a child who has been bullied repeatedly;
    • Teach your child safety strategies. Teach them how to seek help from an adult when feeling threatened by a bully. Talk about who they should go to for help and role-play what they should say. Assure your child that reporting bullying is not the same as 'snitching';
    • Ask yourself if your child is being bullied because of a learning difficulty or a lack of social skills? If your child is hyperactive, impulsive, or overly talkative, the child who bullies may be reacting out of annoyance. This doesn't make the bullying right, but it may help to explain why your child is being bullied. If your child easily irritates people, seek help from a counsellor so that your child can better learn the informal social rules of their peer group.
  • Talk with your child. Find out why they are bullying others. You might explore how your child is feeling about them, ask if they are being bullied by someone else, and invite discussion about bullying. Find out if your child's friends are also bullying. Ask how you can help;
  • Confirm that your child's behaviour is bullying and not the result of a disability. Sometimes, children with disabilities bully other children. Other times, children with certain behavioural disorders or limited social skills may act in ways that are mistaken for bullying. Whether the behaviour is intentional bullying or is due to a disability, it still needs to be addressed;
  • Teach empathy, respect, and compassion. Children who bully often lack awareness of how others feel. Try to understand your child's feelings, and help your child appreciate how others feel when they are bullied. Let your child know that everyone has feelings and that feelings matter;
  • Make your expectations clear. Let your child know that bullying is not okay under any circumstances and that you will not tolerate it. Take immediate action if you learn that he or she is involved in a bullying incident;
  • Provide clear, consistent consequences for bullying. Be specific about what will happen if the bullying continues. Try to find meaningful consequences, such as loss of privileges or a face-to-face meeting with the child being bullied;
  • Teach by example. Model non-violent behaviour and encourage cooperative, non-competitive play. Help your child learn different ways to resolve conflict and deal with feelings such as anger, insecurity, or frustration. Teach and reward appropriate behaviour;
  • Role play. Help your child practice different ways of handling situations. You can take turns playing the part of the child who does the bullying and the one who is bullied. Doing so will help your child understand what it's like to be in the other person's shoes;
  • Provide positive feedback. When your child handles conflict well, shows compassion for others, or finds a positive way to deal with feelings, provide praise and recognition. Positive reinforcement goes a long way toward improving behaviour. It is more effective than punishment;
  • Be realistic. It takes time to change behaviour. Be patient as your child learns new ways of handling feelings and conflict. Keep your love and support visible;
  • Seek help. Your child's doctor, teacher, school principal, school social worker, or a psychologist can help you and your child learn how to understand and deal with bullying behaviour. Ask if your school offers a bullying prevention program. Bullying hurts everyone. Parents can play a significant role in stopping the behaviour, and the rewards will be immeasurable for all.
  • Encourage your child to look at ways that they can discourage bullying even if they are not brave enough to challenge the bullying directly e.g.
    • Walking away;
    • Looking out for the victim later and saying a kind word;
    • Explaining to the victim that they don't like the bullying and asking how they can help;
    • Telling the bullies they don't like it;
    • Asking the victim to come and join their game;
    • Talking to other bystanders to agree what everyone can do;
    • Talking to adults and asking them intervene;
    • Being part of a formal peer support system in school.

Agencies should put in place the following:

  • Have an anti-bullying policy which is reviewed in consultation with the community and actively promoted using agreed definition of bullying (see Section 2 Defining Bullying);
  • Identify a named senior lead within the agency for anti-bullying;
  • Measure the extent and nature of bullying and take all possible steps to reduce it;
  • Support staff by locally agreed thresholds and single agency policies to combat bullying. In the more serious cases, these should include discussion with the agency's nominated safeguarding children adviser;
  • Inform staff that bullying can include emotional and / or physical harm to such a degree that it constitutes significant harm. Recognition and response in a situation where a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, a degree of physical, sexual and / or emotional harm (through abuse or neglect), which is so harmful that there needs to be compulsory intervention by child protection agencies into the life of the child and their family;
  • Where the bullying may involve an allegation of crime (assault, theft, harassment) make a referral to the police at the earliest opportunity, having taken into account the views and wishes of the victim and their parents;
  • Ensure professionals are aware of their responsibilities in relation to anti-bullying, competent to support and manage both the victim and the abuser and make available anti-bullying awareness training to all staff in line with their roles and responsibilities;
  • Put in place processes for effective recording, monitoring and reporting for all bullying incidents involving young people within the community;
  • Give information to children, young people and their parents about the organisation's approach to anti-bullying, what to do, who to go to, if they have concerns;
  • Help develop social and emotional skills in all children and young people including empathy, co-operation and positive conflict resolution and these skills are modelled by adults;
  • Engage with local and national anti-bullying initiatives.

Schools are the agency most likely to become aware of bullying and schools have statutory obligations to respond. Every school must have measures to encourage good behaviour and prevent all forms of bullying amongst pupils. These measures should be part of the school's behaviour policy which must be communicated to all pupils, school staff and parents.

Headteachers also have the ability to discipline pupils for poor behaviour even when the pupil is not on school premises or under the lawful control of school staff.

Action for Children (formerly NCH)

One of UK's leading charities, supporting some of the country's most vulnerable and excluded children and young people. Leading UK provider of family and community centres, and children's services in rural areas.
0207 7704 7000
85 Highbury Park, London N5 1UD
Action for Children

Child Exploitation and Protection Online (CEOP)

Works across the UK supporting providing internet safety for children, young people and their families. Also delivers free education programmes - to children and young people, parents and professionals. "Polices" the internet.
0870 000 3344
33 Vauxhall Road, London SW1V 2WG
Child Exploitation and Protection Online (CEOP)


UK's free 24 Helpline for children and young people to call about any worry - more calls on bullying than any other issue.
Also run CHIPS (Childline in Partnership with Schools) - they work closely with schools to help them set up effective support for pupils.
020 7650 3231
45 Folgate Street, London
E1 6GL
Helpline 0800 1111


Non profit organisation working with others to help make the internet a great and safe place for children.
0207 639 6967
Studio 14, Brockley Cross Business Centre, 96 Endwell Road, London SE4 2PD

Contact A Family 

Provides advice, information and support to families with disabled children across the UK and those who work with them.
0207 608 8740
209-211 City Road, London
Contact A Family

Cyberbullying: Advice for Headteachers and School Staff (Department for Education, 2014)

Advice for Parents and Carers on Cyberbullying (Department for Education, 2014)

Get Connected

Offer emotional support to young people, and help them explore the options available. Help young people access the support service they need. Free, confidential Helpline.
Get Connected
Helpline 0808 808 4994

LEAP Confronting Conflict

Works with young people and the professionals who work with them. They believe that conflict is inevitable in the lives of young people, and what is important is to enable them to deal with it in constructive and creative ways.
0207 272 5630
The LEAP Centre, 8 Lennox Road, Finsbury Park, London
N4 3NW
LEAP Confronting Conflict


Works to end cruelty to children, and provides a range of direct services for children and young people, and for their parents / carers and families. 24 Freephone Helpline.
0207 650 6855
Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3 NH
Helpline 0808 800 5000

Parentline Plus

Biggest independent provider of parenting support in the country - national charity. Free confidential 24 hour Helpline. Run groups and workshops - face to face and by telephone. Also a free text phone for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment -
0800 783 6783 0207 824 5549
520 Highgate Studios, 53-79 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, London NW5 1TL
Parentline Plus
Helpline 0808 800 2222

Preventing and Tackling Bullying - Advice for Headteachers, Staff and Governing Bodies (Department for Education, 2017)

Terence Higgins Trust

Set up in response to the HIV epidemic, and has been at the forefront of the fight against HIV and AIDS ever since. Provides a very side range of services, including support for young people with HIV / AIDS who are being bullied. Also emotional support via the telephone (Helpline).
0207 812 1600
314 - 320 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP
Terence Higgins Trust
Helpline 0845 1221 200

Victim Support

National charity for people affected by crime, including bullying. Free and confidential service. National Helpline, Victim Supportline, provides information, support and referral to local services.
0207 896 3769
Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, London SW9 6DZ
Victim Support 
Helpline 0845 3030 900

Young Minds

National charity dedicated to improving the mental health of all babies, children and young people. Parents Information Service for anyone with concerns about the mental health of a child or young person. Wide range of publications covering issues affecting children, including bullying. Advice and support for young people contemplating self harm and suicide.
0207 336 1458
48-50 St John Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 4DG
Young Minds

Specialist Organisations:

  • The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA): Founded in 2002 by NSPCC and National Children's Bureau, the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) brings together over 100 organisations into one network to develop and share good practice across the whole range of bullying issues;
  • Kidscape: Charity established to prevent bullying and promote child protection providing advice for young people, professionals and parents about different types of bullying and how to tackle it. They also offer specialist training and support for school staff, and assertiveness training for young people;
  • The BIG Award: The Bullying Intervention Group (BIG) offer a national scheme and award for schools to tackle bullying effectively.


  • Advice on Child Internet Safety: The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) has produced universal guidelines for providers on keeping children safe online;
  • ChildNet International: Specialist resources for young people to raise awareness of online safety and how to protect themselves;
  • Digizen: Provide online safety information for educators, parents, carers and young people;
  • Think U Know: Resources provided by NCA-CEOP  for children and young people, parents, carers and teachers on how to stay safe on a computer, tablet or phone;
  • Sexting: How to Respond to an Incident: The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) an overview for staff on how to respond to incidents involving sexting;
  • Sharing nudes and semi-nudes: advice for education settings working with children and young people.


  • Ditch the Label: Resources to use when tackling gender stereotypes;
  • Schools Out: Offers practical advice, resources (including lesson plans) and training to schools on LGBT equality in education;
  • Stonewall: Resources to help schools, colleges and other settings ensure they are LGBT inclusive.



  • Anne Frank Trust: Runs a schools project to teach young people about Anne Frank and the Holocaust, the consequences of unchecked prejudice and discrimination, and cultural diversity;
  • Kick it Out: Uses the appeal of football to educate young people about racism and provide education packs for schools;
  • Racist and Faith Targeted Bullying: Information on racist and faith targeted bullying including top tips for schools, advice countering intolerance and prejudice, promoting shared values and what the law says;
  • Show Racism the Red Card: Provide resources and workshops for schools to educate young people, often using the high profile of football, about racism.

Last Updated: January 8, 2024