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Bullying at School: What Can You Do

Being bullied remains a serious problem for many children and teenagers. The impact often lasts beyond time in school and even into adulthood.

UK law deals with the worst of school bullies. Find out what parents can do about bullying in schools and how to report a bully.

BULLYING LAWS UK: Bullying in schools becomes illegal if the aggressor is violent or causes an assault.

You should report some types of bullying to the police, such as any time it involves:

  • A hate crime.
  • Assault, theft, or violence.
  • Intimidation or repeated harassment (e.g. abusive phone calls, emails, text messages, threats, or name calling).

Note: Phone 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger!

Annual Bullying Survey 2021

The Annual Bullying Survey is an international anti-bullying charity. In 2020, they surveyed 13,387 youngsters (aged 12 to 18) in schools and colleges in the United Kingdom.

Current bullying statistics show 25% of young people have been bullied by another person. Many of the school bullies admitted doing it on a regular basis. In fact, a small percentage said they bullied someone else every day.

Often, the way a child looks is the main subject of bullying in schools. Around 47% of bullied pupils said their appearance received most intimidation from bullies. Other instances relate to:

  • Attitudes towards hobbies.
  • High school grades.
  • Physical assault and manipulation.
  • Pupils with disabilities.
  • Social exclusion.

School Behaviour Policy on Bullying

Education facilities must follow all school rules and regulations in the United Kingdom. By law, there must be a behaviour policy in place at all state schools (this rule excludes private schools).

The policy must include satisfactory measures to prevent, and deal with, all forms of bullying among pupils. Each school determines their own individual policy.

Even so, every school must inform their teachers, the parents, and the pupils of what it is and what parents can do about bullying.

School Anti-discrimination Laws

The school and its teaching staff are also required to follow UK anti-discrimination laws. The discriminatory rules apply for all schools in England and Wales (and most in Scotland). The aim is to prevent all forms of harassment, victimisation, and discrimination in schools.

Note: Anti-discrimination laws differ in Northern Ireland. Contact the ‘Equality Commission for Northern Ireland‘ (ECNI) for further details.

How to Report Bullying in Schools

As a rule, it would be most appropriate to report bullying to your child’s school in the first instance. You could also discuss the matter with someone of trust if it takes place outside of the school.

But not all bullying in the United Kingdom takes place at schools and colleges. Other examples outside of school include online harassment or at night clubs.

Note: Contact crime and policing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Always inform the police if bullying involves violence or crime.

Reporting Bullying to School Staff

School staff deal with bullying in several different ways. As a rule, it will depend on the seriousness of the matter in hand. For example:

  • They might deal with it ‘internally’ at the school premises. All schools have procedures for disciplining and excluding bullies.
  • Any discipline administered must take account for those with special educational needs (SEN). The same applies to any pupils with disabilities.
  • In some cases, the education facility might also report it to the police or the local social services.

Note: There are ways to complain about a school if you feel it did not ‘adequately’ dealt with your concerns.

Reporting Bullying to the Police

As a rule, the first point of contact should be the school or college where the incident took place. But, anyone can contact the police to make a complaint about bullying.

You can also report cases of cyberbullying to the police. In this case, it is best not to delete messages you receive from cyberbullies. Show police all records of the dates and call times of emails or text messages.

Help and Advice about Bullying

The Anti-Bullying Alliance is one of many organisations available. They offer free help and advice for people with concerns about bullying.

Anti-Bullying Alliance
Email: [email protected]
ChildLine: 0800 1111(free and confidential)
Call charges comparison chart.

National Children’s Bureau
Anti-Bullying Alliance
23 Mentmore Terrace
London E8 3PN

Bullying and Pupil Behaviour Outside School

There may be times when you must deal with your child’s school problems out of schooling hours. Head teachers at state schools have legal powers to ensure pupils behave themselves. They can deal with any bully outside the school premises (e.g. in a town center or on public transport).

Definition of Bullying

In fact, there is no legal definition of bullying per se. But, bullying means to use superior strength or influence to intimidate someone. Often, it forces them to do something against their will.

Bullying behaviour gets defined as repeated, and usually intending to hurt someone. The hurt can be physical or emotional. Often, it gets aimed at certain groups of people in particular. This is usually because of their gender, sexual orientation, religion, or race.

Bullies use physical assault, they tease, make verbal threats with name calling. Cyberbullying is also recognised as one of the newest forms of bullying.

Conducted online, it travels through the Internet or via mobile phones. It targets those using social networks, instant messenger, and emails.

Anti-Bullying Week: 15 – 19 November 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) announced further funding for specialist training to help tackle all forms of bullying schools.

Related Help Guides

Appeal an Exam Result: Check the process for making a legal challenge to a school or a college.
Health and Safety for School Children | Responsibilities for child safety on field trips and other activities.
UK Home Education | Parents can choose to teach and educate their children at home instead of school.

Dealing with Bullying at School in the United Kingdom