Bullying at school
Some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. These include:
- violence or assault
- repeated harassment or intimidation, for example name calling, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages
- hate crimes
If you’re reporting cyberbullying, keep a record of the date and time of the calls, emails or texts - don’t delete any messages you receive.
Call 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger.
Schools and the law
By law, all government-funded (not private) schools must have a behaviour policy in place that includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. This policy is decided by the school.
All teachers, pupils and parents must be told what it is.
Schools must also follow anti-discrimination law. This means staff must act to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation within the school.
Find out more about your rights.
You should report bullying to your school in the first place - or someone you trust if it happens outside school, for example in a club or online.
Tell the police if the bullying involves a crime.
School staff will deal with bullying in different ways, depending on how serious the bullying is. They might deal with it in school, for example by disciplining bullies, or they might report it to the police or social services.
Any discipline must take account of special educational needs or disabilities that the pupils involved may have.
You can complain about a school if you think it hasn’t dealt with your concerns.
Bullying outside school
Head teachers of government-funded schools have the legal power to make sure pupils behave outside of school premises.
This includes bullying that happens anywhere off the school premises, for example on public transport or in a town centre.
Where to get help and advice
There are lots of organisations that provide support and advice if you’re worried about bullying:
- Anti-Bullying Alliance
- Bullying UK
- The Diana Award
- Internet Matters
- The UK Safer Internet Centre
- UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS)
The definition of bullying
There is no legal definition of bullying. However, it’s usually defined as behaviour that is:
- intended to hurt someone either physically or emotionally
- often aimed at certain groups, for example because of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation
It takes many forms and can include:
- physical assault
- making threats
- name calling
- cyberbullying - bullying via mobile phone or online (for example email, social networks and instant messenger)