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1.4.7 Bullying

AMENDMENT

Section 5, Related Guidance was updated in July 2018.


Contents

  1. Definition
  2. The Child
  3. Action and Prevention
  4. Dealing with Incidents of Bullying by Children
  5. Related Guidance


1. Definition

Bullying is defined as “behaviour by an individual or group, usually repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally” (DfE definition).

It can be inflicted on a child by another child or an adult. 

It can take many forms, but the three main types are:

  • Physical - for example, hitting, kicking, shoving, theft;
  • Verbal - for example, threats, name calling, racist or homophobic remarks;
  • Emotional - for example, isolating an individual from activities/games and the social acceptance of their peer group.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using technology. Whether on social media sites, through a mobile phone, or gaming sites, the effects can be devastating for the young person involved. There are ways to help prevent a child from being cyberbullied and to help them cope and stop the bullying if it does happen. It is another form of bullying which can happen at all times of the day, with a potentially bigger audience. By its very nature, cyberbullying tends to involve a number of online bystanders and can quickly spiral out of control. Children and young people who bully others online do not need to be physically stronger and their methods can often be hidden and subtle.

Bullying often starts with apparently trivial events such as teasing and name calling which nevertheless rely on an abuse of power. Such abuses of power, if left unchallenged, can lead to more serious forms of abuse, such as domestic violence and abuse, racial attacks, sexual offences and self-harm or suicide.

Bullying is a type of behaviour which needs to be defined by the impact on the child being bullied rather than by the intention of the perpetrator.


2. The Child 

2.1 The Child being Bullied

Any child may be bullied, but bullying often occurs if a child has been identified in some ways as vulnerable, different or inclined to spend more time on his or her own. 

Children living away from home are particularly vulnerable to bullying and abuse by their peers.

The damage inflicted by bullying can often be underestimated. It can cause considerable distress to children, to the extent that it affects their health and development or, at the extreme, causes depression and self-harm.

Children are often held back from telling anyone about their experience either by threats or by a feeling that nothing can change their situation.

Parents, carers and agencies need to be alert to any changes in behaviour such as refusing to attend school or a particular place or activity, becoming anxious in public places and crowds and becoming withdrawn and isolated. 

2.2 The Child Engaging in Bullying Behaviour

Children, who bully, have often been bullied themselves and suffered considerable disruption in their own lives. The bullying behaviour may occur because the child is unhappy, jealous or lacking in confidence. 

Work with children who bully should recognise that they are likely to have significant needs themselves.


3. Action and Prevention

All settings in which children are provided with services or are living away from home should have in place anti-bullying strategies. This includes schools as well as all youth clubs and all other children’s organisations where the anti bullying strategies should be rigorously enforced.

  • A sense of community will be achieved only if organisations take seriously behaviour which upsets children;
  • Promotion of all children within the setting counters isolation of individuals by others, nurtures friendships between children and, where it is a residential setting, supports them to adapt to their living arrangements;
  • Support should be offered to children for whom English is not their first language to communicate needs and concerns;
  • Children should be able to approach any member of staff within the organisation with personal concerns.

In order to maintain an effective strategy for dealing with bullying, the traditional ideas about bullying should be challenged, e.g.

  • It’s only a bit of harmless fun;
  • It’s all part of growing up;
  • Children just have to put up with it;
  • Adults getting involved make it worse.

Clear messages must be given that bullying is not acceptable and children must be reassured that significant adults involved in their lives are dealing with bullying seriously. Some acts of bullying could be a criminal offence.

A climate of openness should be established in which children are not afraid to address issues and incidents of bullying.

Consideration should always be given to the existence of any underlying issues in relation to race, gender and sexual orientation. This should be addressed and challenged accordingly. 

Where a child is thought to be exposed to bullying, action should be taken to assess the child’s needs and provide support services.

A range of active listening techniques which provide a more helpful response include:


Technique Suggested Response
THE LISTENER: Listening patiently with full attention, encouraging, clarifying, restating, reflecting, validating, summarising.
THE DETECTIVE: Investigating the situation sensitively and patiently.
THE SUPPORTER:  Seeing their side, acknowledging and allowing expression of their feelings.
THE COACH: Checking out what help is being asked for and offering practical, realistic help.


If the bullying involves a physical assault, as well as seeking medical attention where necessary, consideration should be given to whether there are any child protection issues to consider and whether there should be a referral to the Police where a criminal offence may have been committed.

Where appropriate, parents should be informed and updated on a regular basis. They should also, when applicable, be involved in supporting programme's devised to challenge bullying behaviour.


4. Dealing with Incidents of Bullying by Children

Creating an Anti-Bullying climate that is conducive to equality of opportunity, co-operation and mutual respect for differences can be achieved by, for example:

  • Low Tolerance of Minor Bullying - “Nipping in the bud” the incidents at the earliest sign;
  • Never ignoring victims of bullying, always showing an interest/concern;
  • Publicly acknowledging the bullied child’s distress;
  • Organising quality groups/circles, which allow children to work together to identify their own problems, the causes and the solutions, with sensitive facilitators.

It is important when addressing bullying behaviour by another child to avoid accusations, threats or any responses that will only lead to the child being uncooperative, and silent.

The focus should be on the bully behaviour rather than the child and where possible the reasons for the behaviour should be explored and dealt with. A clear explanation of the extent of the upset the bullying has caused should be given and encouragement to see the bullied child’s points of view. 

The children (bully and bullied) should be carefully assessed and closely monitored. The times, places and circumstances in which the risk of bullying is greatest should be ascertained and action taken to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Whatever plan of action is implemented after the above issues have been identified, the plan must be reviewed with regular intervals and amended if necessary to ensure that the bullying has ceased.


5. Related Guidance

See also:

Preventing and Tackling Bullying - Advice for Headteachers, Staff and Governing Bodies (Department for Education, 2014)

Cyberbullying: Advice for Headteachers and School Staff (Department for Education, 2015)

Advice for Parents and Carers on Cyberbullying (Department for Education, 2015)

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 Diana Award: Anti-Bullying Ambassadors programme to empower young people to take responsibility for changing the attitudes and behaviour of their peers towards bullying. It will achieve this by identifying, training and supporting school anti-bullying ambassadors;
  • The BIG Award: The Bullying Intervention Group (BIG) offer a national scheme and award for schools to tackle bullying effectively.

Cyber Bullying:

  • ChildNet International: Specialist resources for young people to raise awareness of online safety and how to protect themselves;
  • Internet Watch Foundation: (for reporting illegal images and content);
  • Think U Know: Resources provided by Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) for children and young people, parents, carers and teachers;
  • Digizen: Provide online safety information for educators, parents, carers and young people;
  • Advice on Child Internet Safety 1.0: The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) has produced universal guidelines for providers on keeping children safe online.

LGBT:

  • Schools Out: Offers practical advice, resources (including lesson plans) and training to schools on LGBT equality in education;
  • Stonewall: An LGB equality organisation with considerable expertise in LGB bullying in schools, a dedicated youth site, resources for schools, and specialist training for teachers.

SEND:

Racism:

  • Show Racism the Red Card: Provide resources and workshops for schools to educate young people, often using the high profile of football, about racism;
  • Kick it Out: Uses the appeal of football to educate young people about racism and provide education packs for schools;
  • 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.

Please note that internal servers may block access to some of these sites. Schools wishing to access these materials may need to adjust their settings.

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