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Page last updated: 30/01/2023

Children and young people have the right to learn in an atmosphere that is free from bullying, harassment and discrimination. Bullying is something we take very seriously and we want to work in partnership with schools, parents / carers, young people and the wider community to tackle this issue.

The Department for Education have published guidance for schools on preventing and tackling bullying.

Definition of Bullying

There is no universally accepted definition of bullying and sometimes parents  / carers and children can get confused between what is bullying and what is a friendship fall out or relational conflict between children.

Bullying is generally considered to be behaviour by an individual or group, repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally.

Relational Conflict vs. Bullying

The following provides a very simplistic guide to some of the differences between bullying and relational conflict.

  • Relational Conflict:
  • Happens occasionally
  • Accidental
  • Equal Power
  • Remorseful
  • Effort to solve problem


  • Repeated hurtful behaviour
  • Deliberate
  • Imbalance of power
  • No remorse
  • No effort to solve problem

Schools will want to think about the definition they wish to adopt to explain what the school considers to be bullying behaviour.

In 2008, after a period of consultation with schools and other partners, Essex County Council adopted the following definition of bullying. Many schools choose to use this definition, but others have produced their own.

"Bullying is any behaviour which is perceived by the targeted individual or any other person, as intending to hurt, intimidate, frighten, harm or exclude. It is usually persistent and an abuse of power, leaving the targeted individual feeling defenceless."

Types of Bullying

Bullying can take many forms and includes:

  • ​Physical bullying - Examples of physical bullying include punching, kicking or hitting. It could also include damage to schoolwork or another person's belongings.
  • Emotional bullying - This includes the deliberate isolation and rejection of an individual - often by taking their friends away. Emotional bullying can also include looks and stares.   
  • Verbal - Verbal bullying will include name calling, put downs and may include sexual or racial comments. 
  • Prejudiced based bullying - This form of bullying is generally driven by negative attitudes towards another group of people, or because the selected victim is seen as 'different' in some way. This can include homophobic bullying, racist bullying and the bullying of children with SEN.
  • Cyberbullying - This is the use of electronic communication to deliberately hurt someone. This includes the intentional sending of hurtful messages and inappropriate images.

Responding to Bullying

It is acknowledged that schools will wish to use a variety of approaches to resolve bullying issues in their schools. Essex County Council would encourage all schools to:

  • have a named member of staff who will lead on anti-bullying issues
  • ensure all staff are trained and feel confident to respond and effectively deal with all incidents of bullying
  • have an up to date anti-bullying policy that addresses all forms of bullying and that clearly explains how they will prevent and respond to bullying issues within their school community
  • encourage parents / carers and children to be involved in developing the anti-bullying policy and ensure that it is shared with all the school community.
  • ensure that parents / carers and children know how to raise a concern about bullying and have a clear understanding how this will be responded to
  • monitor the effectiveness of their anti-bullying policy
  • provide strategies to support those that are both bullied and those who bully

The Government has produced a research document​ that gives further information on the different approaches that can be used to respond to bullying.

Recognising Bullying

Children and young people maybe targeted for a variety of reasons that can include the following:

perceived as different

new to the school

have special needs / disabilities

come from different backgrounds

may be young carers or children in care

nervous or have low self esteem

demonstrate entertaining reactions

Possible warning signs to look out for include children who display some of the following:

  • concentrate less in class
  • be reluctant to go out to play
  • cling to adults in the playground
  • begin hurting others for no apparent reason
  • complain of hunger
  • have unexplained injuries
  • become withdrawn and distressed
  • refuse to say what the problem is
  • have possessions go missing regularly
  • give unlikely excuses to explain any of the above


The Anti Bullying Alliance has links to the research on all matters related to bullying. 

Additional support and guidance