Bullying is behaviour that hurts someone else – such as name calling, hitting or pushing, spreading rumours, threatening or undermining someone. Bullying can have a serious, long-term effect on a child. It might not be physical abuse – bullying can be emotional or verbal, involve racism or even take place online (also known as cyberbullying). It’s usually repeated over a long period of time.
Unfortunately, bullying can happen anywhere, both in and out of school, and parents, carers, teachers and other professionals have a duty to take action if they suspect or discover that a child is being bullied.
Bullying that happens online, using social networks, games and mobile phones, is often called cyberbullying. A child can feel like there’s no escape because it can happen wherever they are, at any time of day or night. Find out more about cyberbullying.
Bullying can include:
- name calling
- making things up to get others into trouble
- hitting, pinching, biting, pushing and shoving
- stealing others belongings/money
- damaging others belongings
- taking friends away to make someone feel excluded
- spreading rumours
- threats and intimidation
- making silent or abusive phone calls.
Bullies can also frighten others to the extent that they don’t want to go to school, and pretend to be ill to avoid them.
Recognising the signs
It is important to understand the impact of bullying and recognise the signs. Examples could include:
- coming home with cuts and bruises
- torn clothes
- asking for stolen possessions to be replaced
- ‘losing’ dinner money
- falling out with previously good friends and being rejected by peers
- being moody and bad tempered
- wanting to avoid leaving the house
- aggression with brothers and sisters
- academic progress may suffer
- anxiety and insecurity
- being quiet and withdrawn
- presenting as unhappy and with low self-esteem
- poor attendance at school.
If you suspect or discover that your own child or a child that you know is being bullied at school talk to their teacher or the head teacher. The school should have a bullying policy on their website.
If you are concerned about a child that you know, try to talk to their parents or carers.
Safeguarding practice guidance for professionals about bullying, including the risks, indicators and protection action to be taken, can be found in the Devon Children and Families Partnership Procedures Manual.