There is no legal definition of bullying. However, it’s usually defined as behaviour that is:

  • repeated
  • 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
  • teasing
  • making threats
  • name calling
  • cyberbullying – bullying by mobile phone or online (for example email, social networks and instant messenger)

Your school should have its own policy to stop bullying.

The law

Some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. These include:

  • violence or assault
  • theft
  • repeated harassment or intimidation, for example name calling, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages
  • hate crimes

Call 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger.

Schools and the law

By law, all state (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.

Anti-discrimination law

Schools must also follow anti-discrimination law. This means staff must act to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation within the school. This applies to all schools in England and Wales, and most schools in Scotland.

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner found that disabled children and those with visible medical conditions can be twice as likely as their peers to become targets for bullying behaviour. The National Autistic Society found that two out of five children on the autistic spectrum had been bullied at school.

Mencap found that nearly nine out of 10 people with a learning disability experience some form of bullying, with over two-thirds experiencing it on a regular basis.

There are lots of resources for practitioners who work with the children and young people. Mencap have their ‘Don’t stick it, stop it!’ report with stories of true events and the resources they used to get the information from those young people.

Complaints about our services

It is important that cases of bullying, harassment or discrimination are resolved as quickly as possible. We promise to investigate and seek to put right any unfairness or unfair discrimination. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly in any way whilst using our services please let us know. You can do this by using the councils complaint process.

If you feel you have been discriminated please see the Equality and Human Rights Commission website which gives information on dealing with discrimination and your options.

Information and advice

You can also find information and advice about bullying and harassment below.

Anti-Bullying Alliance is a national organisation.

Childline is also a national organisation that has resources for all types of bullying. The information is written in a way that young people can understand which type of bullying has happened.

Bullying UK – part of Family Lives

SEND information – part of our Local Offer

Document preview

Written by a Somerset group of young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.


Last reviewed:July 12, 2022 byJennifer

Next review due:January 12, 2023

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