Bullying (including cyberbullying)
Bullying behaviours are unacceptable. Bullying undermines confidence and causes misery and distress. It can affect a child or young person’s attendance and progress at school. It can also have a detrimental impact on a child’s mental health. Fear, isolation, anxiety and diminished self-esteem can lead to self-harm, depression and suicidal thoughts or actions. Research has shown that children who are bullied and/or bully others are more likely to suffer from mental health issues.
The rise of cyberbullying is a frequent cause of emotional disturbance in children and young people. Cyberbullying is insidious; technology enables perpetrators to have the power to reach their targets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There is growing evidence of the lasting impact of childhood bullying. A recent study by the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College, London concluded that children who are bullied, particularly those who are frequently bullied, are at risk of a range of poor outcomes into adulthood and middle age.
Schools should be places of safety for all children and young people. There should be a culture of mutual respect and tolerance, supported by the school’s thoughtful approach to the promotion of British values. Bullying behaviours should be robustly challenged and those exhibiting such behaviours should be supported to understand the impact that their behaviour has on others.
The Anti-Bullying Alliance has created a briefing for schools and professionals about bullying and the law.
Potential school action
Following the notification or disclosure of bullying, the following actions should be considered:
Staff follow the school’s anti-bullying policy. All staff in schools should be aware of the school’s policy for preventing and tackling bullying which should be underpinned by the latest Department for Education – preventing bullying advice and guidance for schools.
A model policy is available on Solihull’s health and wellbeing in schools website, which schools can adapt.
- Bullying is a safeguarding issue for schools. 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’. The school child protection policy and procedures should be followed.
- Where there are concerns about the behaviour of the person(s) undertaking the bullying, the school behaviour policy should be fully adhered to including any referrals to specialist agencies, such as the youth offending service
- Professionals should refer to Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) procedures for guidance. The procedures also provide a useful reminder that some identified groups are particularly vulnerable to bullying.
- The completion of an Early Help assessment may be appropriate for some children and young people in order to identify and meet needs;
- Referrals to Solar may be required where there is a possible anxiety disorder/clinical depression;
- Keeping children safe online is a newly updated online introductory safeguarding course for anyone who works with children. The intended outcome of the course, developed by the NSPCC, is for participants to learn how children use the internet and how they can be kept safe from abuse. It includes a unit on the subject of online bullying.
Culture and Ethos
Preventative work is crucial to ensure that the level of bullying incidents reduces and that, where bullying does occur, school responses are swift and consistent. A positive and supportive culture within the school, where relationships are characterised by mutual respect, will have a significant impact.
Schools which excel at tackling bullying have created an ethos of good behaviour where pupils treat one another and the school staff with respect because they know that this is the right way to behave. Values of respect for staff and other pupils, an understanding of the value of education, and a clear understanding of how our actions affect others permeate the whole school environment and are reinforced by staff and older pupils who set a good example to the rest.
Preventing and tackling bullying, DfE
KiVa is a research-based anti-bullying program that has been developed in Finland. There are opportunities for schools in Solihull to become involved through locally accredited trainers working in partnership with Bangor University (official UK licence partners of the University of Turku, Finland).
Curriculum (universal provision through planned PSHE)
The school’s curriculum should ensure that all children and young people have a range of opportunities to learn and understand what bullying is, and that it is unacceptable. In Solihull’s schools with primary age children, this will be supported by the use of the Jigsaw PSHE resource. Jigsaw fully meets the DfE draft guidance for Relationships and Health Education (to be compulsory by 2020).
- The school’s PSHE curriculum should:
Have a strong focus on pupils learning to manage and take responsibility for their own feelings and behaviour, both in the online and offline worlds – understanding the impact that their behaviour has on others
- Focus on accessing help and support and talking to a range of trusted adults
- Focus on understanding difference and diversity. Resources and information that will support schools in addressing the issue of homophobia and homophobic bullying can be found at Solgrid: Health and wellbeing – safeguarding through the curriculum
- Use scenarios and stories as distancing strategies to explore the sensitive issue of bullying in a depersonalised way. A range of story books focused on difference, acceptance and bullying can be found at The BookTrust
Involving other agencies and signposting
The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) has resources focusing on a range of themes and are suitable for use with different age groups. The Anti-Bullying Alliance also provides schools with assessment tools and surveys about bullying.
ChildLine provides information, help and support, in addition to the helpline
The Department for Education advice for schools can be accessed at: DfE: Cyberbullying advice for headteachers and school staff
Information and resources about cyberbullying have also been collated on the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) website
Childnet’s website incorporates cyberbullying pages – resources to support learning for primary and secondary aged pupils are included
NSPCC advice for parents and carers to help keep children safe from bullying, wherever it happens
Updates and changes
These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information. Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.