What is bullying?

Bullying is deliberately hurtful behaviour, repeated over a period of time, where it is difficult for those being bullied to defend themselves.

It can happen anywhere, including school, the street, on the internet, even at home and can happen to anyone.

Bullying can take many forms, but the four main types of bullying are:

  • Physical (e.g. hitting, kicking, pushing, pinching, groping, theft of personal belongings)
  • Verbal (e.g. name calling, taunting, mocking, racist remarks, sexist remarks)
  • Indirect (e.g. spreading rumours, excluding people from groups)
  • Cyber bullying (e.g. bullying by mobile phone or through the internet)

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Advice for young people

Bullying can happen to anyone. All of us, no matter how brave or how old, can feel hurt by the way people treat us. If you are being bullied, you might think that if you tell, it will get worse, or that other people won’t like you. Follow for bullying advice for young people

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Help if your child is being bullied

If you have serious concerns about your child’s emotional health, you should talk to your GP.

Helpline information

The Family Information Service runs an anti-bullying helpline for parents and carers. If your child is being bullied and you want advice on what to do, call the helpline on 0845 090 8044 or 01926 742274. The helpline is open from 9am – 5:30pm Monday to Thursday and from 9am – 5pm on Fridays.

The complaints procedure in schools

If your child is being bullied at school, the following procedures should be followed:

  • Talk and listen to your child and assure them that they will be safe after ‘telling’. Try to record everything that has happened.
  • Talk to your child’s teacher, explaining what has happened, who has done what, when and so on. Try to stay calm.
  • Check regularly with your child to see if things have improved. If not, continue recording all incidents of bullying and discuss this with your child.
  • If you are still unhappy, make an appointment with the head of your child’s school, talk to them about what is happening and give them what you have recorded.
  • If after meeting with the head you are still not happy, you can make a formal complaint to the school’s Governing Body. They will then have to investigate how your concern has been handled. Check your school’s Complaints Policy for more information about how to do this.
  • Finally if you are unhappy with the Governors’ response, you need to write to the Secretary of State
    Department for Education
    Piccadilly Gate
    Store Street
    M1 2WD

You can also use the Department for Education’s online contact form: https://www.education.gov.uk/help/contactus/dfe
For further information ring The Department for Education on 0370 000 2288

Keep a bullying diary

If you and your child can keep a record about the bullying they have experienced, it can be really helpful when you are talking to your child’s teacher or another adult about how to sort it out. Get your child to try and remember and write down as much as they can about what happened, when and where the bullying took place and who was involved in a Bullying Diary.

Anti-bullying diary (PDF, 200.8 KB)

Tips on how to write a letter of complaint to the school’s headteacher or governing body

If after speaking to your child’s teacher, the bullying continues, you may want to write a letter of complaint to the school’s headteacher or governing body. The factsheet below gives tips and advice on how to write a letter to the school’s head or governing body to get your complaint investigated and dealt with effectively:

Writing letter of complaint (PDF, 247.67 KB)

Other documents

For more information on different forms of bullying and how to deal with it, please read the Bullying – a parents guide document below.

Dealing with bullying 2015 (PDF, 260.04 KB)

This leaflet gives you tips on preventing and tackling bullying, signs to look out for if you suspect your child is being bullied, how to deal with cyberbullying and prejudice-driven bullying as well as advice on what to do if your child is doing the bullying. This leaflet is also available in Polish, Portuguese and Punjabi in the Documents and downloads section on the right-hand side of this page.

You can also find information and advice on dealing specifically with:

Anti-bullying advice for foster carers (DOCX, 170.86 KB) Anti-bullying useful contacts (PDF, 235.8 KB) Bullying and children with special educational needs (PDF, 331.77 KB)

The Family Information Service’s Surfing safely – your family’s guide to internet safety will also give you detailed advice on dealing with cyberbullying.

Surfing Safely 2015 (PDF, 331.9 KB)


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Bullying and exclusion from school

Bullying can lead to children being excluded from school. For more information ring the Exclusions Officer on 01926 742517.

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Further help

The organisations and services listed below can offer expert advice and support on dealing with bullying.

National helplines

  • ChildLine – Tel: 0800 11 11
  • Kidscape – Tel: 0845 205 204 – Bullying counsellors available Monday to Thursday 10am – 4pm
  • Family Lives – Tel: 0808 800 2222 – Free confidential help for anyone looking after a child.
  • Get Connected – Tel: 0808 8084994 – Free confidential helpline for young people.
  • Samaritans – Tel: 08457 90 90 90 – Helpline for those in distress.
  • Advisory Centre for Education – Tel: 0300 0115 142 – Advice line for parents on all matters concerning schools – open term time only, Monday – Wednesday 10am to 1pm.


  • Childline – is a free, confidential 24 hour counselling service for children and young people in trouble or danger. They offer advice and support to children, young people and adults on a range of topics including child abuse and bullying.
  • Kidscape – helps to prevent bullying and child abuse. They provide information, advice and resources on how to keep children safe from harm.
  • Gov.uk – Bullying – gives information, support and advice to parents and carers on what to do if their child is being bullied.
  • Bullying UK – is an award-winning charity which is dedicated to providing detailed help and advice for the victims of bullying and their parents and carers.

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