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4.9 Countering Bullying


This guidance should be read in conjunction with Countering Bullying Procedure.

For additional guidance see the Safe from Bullying suite of guidance, which was published on the Every Child Matters website on July 2009


  1. What is Bullying?
  2. Managing Bullying

1. What is Bullying?

Bullying occurs when a person or group of people behave in ways which are designed to cause distress or to hurt a person or group of people. 

Some times whole organisations can bully.

Bullying can be overt and plain for all to see. It can be subtle and insidious.

Bullying can become part of the culture, recognised or believed by all or a significant number of people as ‘acceptable’; it can even be encouraged and rewarded.

Bullying can include:

  1. Name calling, being sarcastic and spreading hurtful rumours;
  2. Assault or physical violence;
  3. Threats & intimidation;
  4. Spitting;
  5. Incitement of others to harass and intimidate;
  6. Destruction or taking property without permission;
  7. Extortion or undue pressure;
  8. Emotional aggression like tormenting and excluding people;
  9. Racial harassment, taunts, graffiti and gestures;
  10. Sexual aggression or harassment, unwanted physical contact or comments;
  11. Comments, threats or actions relating to people’s disability;
  12. Comments, threats or actions relating to people’s sexual orientation.

Staff and children are capable of bullying, and of being bullied.

2. Managing Bullying

When staff/carers consider that bullying is occurring or there is a likelihood of it, they should either:

  1. Act within the Strategies in the relevant child’s Placement Plan or any other strategies adopted within the home;
  2. If no plans or strategies are in place, take what actions they believe are reasonable in the circumstances to reduce the likelihood of the bullying or prevent it.

In normal circumstances where the bullying is not serious or part of a persistent pattern, the following strategies should be adopted:

  1. Take reports or suspicions of bullying seriously;
  2. Find out what is going on, talking about it openly;
  3. Comfort and reassure the victim, demonstrating that support and protection will be provided;
  4. Talk to the bully and those who support the bully; try to obtain a level of understanding and change;
  5. If it seems appropriate, bring the bully and victim together, and others involved, to help improve relationships between them;
  6. If the bully is not open to change, ensure the behaviour is challenged in a way that positively reinforces non-aggressive behaviour.
  7. If necessary reprimand and impose Sanctions or controls designed to reduce the re-occurrence of the behaviour
  8. Reassure everyone, including children not directly involved, that the behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated;
  9. Arrange for property which has been taken or damaged to be replaced or repaired;
  10. Provide ongoing support and encouragement for the victim and bully alike

If there is a view that the bullying constitutes Significant Harm refer to London Child Protection Procedures.