A definition of bullying, which is provided by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, is:
"The intentional hurting of one person by another, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. It is usually repetitive or persistent, although some one-off attacks can have a continuing harmful effect on the victim".
It can take many forms, but the 3 main types are physical e.g. hitting, kicking, theft; verbal e.g. racist or homophobic remarks, threats, name calling and emotional e.g. isolating an individual from social activities / acceptance of her/his peer group.
The damage inflicted by bullying is often underestimated and can cause considerable distress to children to the extent that it affects their health and development. In the extreme it can causeSignificant Harm, including self-harm.
All settings in which children are provided with services or are living away from home must have in place rigorously enforced anti-bullying strategies.
The Education and Inspections Act 2006 requires that Head Teachers must determine measures on behaviour and discipline that form the school's behaviour policy. The law also empowers Head Teachers, to such extent as is reasonable, to regulate the behaviour of pupils when they are off school site (which is particularly pertinent to Cyberbullying).
Preventing and Tackling Bullying (Department for Education, 2013) provides advice for head teachers, staff and governing bodies.
Bullying may involve an allegation of crime e.g. assault, theft, and harassment and should be reported to the police at the earliest opportunity.
Where there are concerns about sexual abuse or serious / persistent physical or emotional abuse, referrals must be made to Children's Social Care.
See also Abuse by Children Procedure.
Schools are required to record all incidents of bullying by type, and should report statistics to the Local Authority.
Schools have a specific legal duty to have a race equality policy and monitor its impact.
Schools also have a specific duty to eliminate disability harassment under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.