School Attendance and Pupil Welfare

Challenging Bullying

As a parent/carer you have a role to play in helping your child to learn to understand and cope with the positive and negative sides of friendships and socialising, both online and offline. You can help your child to learn to stay safe and happy and to treat others with respect and kindness. You are often the first to notice if your child is not acting like themselves, is unhappy or appears aggressive.

Parents/carers can feel a range of emotions when discovering that their child is being bullied or is bullying others. While initial feelings may include upset, anger, sadness and guilt, it is important to remember that there is a way forward.

We expect parents/carers and their children to work with schools to prevent and challenge bullying.

Pembrokeshire County Council define bullying as;

‘Behaviour by an individual or group, repeated over time, which intentionally hurts others either physically or emotionally’

Bullying is a form of unacceptable behaviour, but not all unacceptable behaviour is bullying. Bullying usually has three key elements, and can take place face-to-face or online:  

It is intentional or deliberate hurtful behaviour.

It is repeated behaviour that usually happens over a period of time.

The person or people being bullied feel powerless to defend themselves.

Types of bullying

Bullying can take many forms, including:

  • being called nasty names, teased, made fun of, threatened or put down
  • being hit, kicked, punched, tripped up or knocked over
  • having belongings stolen or deliberately damaged
  • having rumours or gossip spread about you or people talking about you behind your back
  • being left out, excluded or isolated
  • being forced to do something you don’t want to do or that you know is wrong.

Online bullying is bullying behaviour that is displayed through technology such as mobile/smart phones or the internet. This could include:

  • hurtful, embarrassing or threatening material posted online (e.g. on social media)
  • nasty messages sent as text messages, e-mails or via other websites or apps
  • being excluded from an online game or chat forum
  • fake profiles on a social network to make fun of others
  • misuse of intimate explicit images of the person targeted (the target).

Prejudice-related bullying is when the bullying is focused on what is different about a person’s identity. It can be targeted at one person or a whole group of people because they are thought to be different, whether this is true or not. This is known as prejudice.

Prejudice-related bullying involves aspects of a person’s identity such as:

  • race
  • religion or beliefs
  • culture or family background
  • disability
  • gender identity – the way someone looks or acts
  • sexual orientation – whether someone is heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual (who someone is attracted to)
  • sex – because of someone’s gender (often in a form of harassment).

When is it not bullying?

The following examples are examples of unacceptable behaviour but are not examples of bullying:

  • a disagreement or ‘falling out’
  • an argument or one-off fight
  • relationship issues where children or young people need to learn how to get along better
  • someone being ‘nasty’ with unkind or disrespectful words or action.

All unacceptable behaviour must be challenged, whether bullying or not.

What can you do to help?

There are lots of things you can do as a parent/carer to support your child, the guidance linked below gives you ideas about how to talk to your child about bullying, how to spot the signs, how you can help them and how to build your child’s confidence and self-esteem. The guidance also gives information about dealing with bullying online, it covers coping with the effects of bullying and managing your own feelings and actions

Guidance for parents and carers 

A guide for young people 

A guide for children 

What can you expect from your child’s school

Schools have a duty of care to protect all their learners and provide a safe, healthy environment.

All schools must, by law have a school behaviour policy. We expect schools to also have an anti-bullying policy setting out how they will address bullying in their school. Your child’s school’s anti-bullying policy or its school behaviour policy, should set out the stages for you to report a bullying concern. These policies should be available on their website or you can request a copy directly from the school.

You will need to refer to your child’s school’s policy for specific details of their reporting stages but below are the general stages which you will need to complete in writing. You should complete all steps in order; allowing the school suitable time and opportunity to put in place action to remedy the situation and giving the action time to take effect. It may not be possible to completely resolve the situation immediately, but you should feel confident that timely action is being taken; if not, move to the next stage in the process.

Step 1 – report to the class teacher/form teacher/head of year

Step 2 – report to the headteacher

Step 3 – report to the school governing body

Step 4 – report to the local authority

At every step, keep a diary or event log of all contact you have made and received, making a note of:

  • who you spoke to
  • how you contacted them (e.g. by phone, email, face to face etc.)
  • when (date/time)
  • what actions were agreed and who was responsible for these actions.

Please note: You should not take to social media to complain about the school or insult, offend or threaten individual school staff. It may cause more harm but it will not resolve the issue. Remember, schools have a duty of care to their own staff as well as to your child. In severe cases, legal or other action may be taken by the school against you if you endanger staff.

You should also not take matters into your own hands and attempt to tackle other children or young people involved in the incident or their families, be this in person or via social media or other online platforms.



ID: 5899, revised 14/04/2023