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What the law says about bullying

Photo: Some types of bullying are illegal

Every school must have measures in place to deal with all forms of bullying. You can ask to see their anti-bullying policy for more information.

Bullying in itself is not a specific criminal offence in the UK, but some types of bullying are illegal.

This includes bullying that involves:

  • violence or assault
  • theft
  • harassment and intimidation
  • threatening behaviour
  • sending abusive emails or text messages
  • hate crime.

More information about bullying and the law can be found on the Anti-Bullying Alliance website.

The Equality Act 2010 in England, Scotland and Wales makes it illegal to discriminate against, harass or victimise a person because of their disability. The Public Sector Equality Duty, which came into force in April 2011, requires public bodies (local authorities and schools) to have due regard to the need to:

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited under the Equality Act
  • advance equality of opportunity between disabled people and non-disabled people
  • foster good relations between disabled and non-disabled people.

This means that consideration of equality issues must influence local authorities and schools when they make decisions about how they act as a responsible body, how they develop, evaluate and review policy and how they design, deliver and evaluate services.

You can find more information about the Equality Act in our Parenting and Family Life section.

Need more information?

If you’re concerned about deaf children and bullying, have a look at our free resource for parents, professionals, and young people, Protecting deaf children from bullying: For primary and secondary schools.

These resources all focus on school settings, but the information and advice they offer applies to any situation your child might find themselves in.You can report online abuse to the CEOP.

Other organisations that can help

Anti-Bullying Alliance

A coalition of organisations and individuals working together to stop bullying and create safe environments in which children and young people can live, grow, play and learn. They provide advice and expertise in relation to all forms of bullying between children and young people.

www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk

Anti-Bullying Network (Scotland)

Scottish organisation providing anti-bullying support to school communities on the internet, with a parents’ and young people’s section.

www.antibullying.net

Bullies Out (Wales)

Information for children, young people and adults in Wales.

www.bulliesout.com

Bullying UK

Provides advice on bullying. Part of the Family Lives charity.

www.bullying.co.uk

CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection)

Information and advice about internet safety for parents, children and young people.

www.ceop.police.uk

Childline

Helpline for children offering emotional support and counselling on any issue, including bullying.

Helpline: 0800 1111 (24 hours). Can also contact by email or online chat.

www.childline.org.uk

Contact a Family

National charity for families with disabled children. Offers support, information and advice on topics including bullying.

Helpline: 0808 808 3555

www.cafamily.org.uk

Digizen

Provides information for professionals, parents and young people on issues such as social networking and cyberbullying.

www.digizen.org

Education Support for Northern Ireland

Information for parents, students and teachers about bullying and other issues.

www.education-support.org.uk

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

Information and guidance on discrimination and human rights issues, including disability discrimination.

www.equalityni.org

Information Advice and Support Services

Formerly known as Parent Partnership Services, these services offer advice and support to parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

www.councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/information-advice-and-support-services-network/find-your-local-ias-service

Kidscape

UK charity established specifically to prevent bullying and child sexual abuse.

Anti-Bullying Helpline for Parents: 08451 205 204

www.kidscape.org.uk

Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF)

A coalition of organisations working together to end bullying of children and young people.

www.niabf.org.uk

NSPCC (England, Scotland and Northern Ireland)

Provides information, advice and counselling to anyone concerned about a child’s safety. Helpline: 0808 800 5000 Text: 88858

help@nspcc.org.uk

www.nspcc.org.uk/reportconcern

Respect Me (Scotland)

Scotland’s anti-bullying service.

Helpline: 0844 800 8600

www.respectme.org.uk

Sibs

Charity representing the needs of siblings of disabled people.

www.sibs.org.uk/parents

Thinkuknow

Latest information on websites, mobiles and new technology. Website created for young people by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

www.thinkuknow.co.uk

UK Safer Internet Centre

For e-safety tips, advice and resources to help children and young people stay safe on the internet.

www.saferinternet.org.uk