What is bullying?

Bullying can be any action that is meant to make you feel upset. This could be physical, like pushing, or hitting, or verbal, like name calling. People who are being bullied will often feel like they have a hard time stopping what is happening to them.

Bullying can include all of these things:

  • name calling and teasing
  • taunting
  • mocking
  • saying mean things in person or online.
  • stealing from you
  • physical violence
  • making threats
  • trying to force you to do something you don’t want to do
  • leaving you out of group activities.

What different types of bullying are there?

Physical bullying

Physical bullying is any unwanted physical contact between the bully and the victim. This can include:

  • hitting
  • kicking
  • slapping
  • pinching
  • biting
  • poking
  • choking.

Verbal bullying

Verbal bullying is writing or saying mean things which can upset the victim. This can include:

  • teasing
  • name-calling
  • inappropriate sexual comments
  • taunting
  • threatening to cause harm.

Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying is writing or posting mean things online. This can include:

  • use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram
  • emails
  • forums
  • video comments
  • texts
  • creating groups and excluding others
  • messaging platforms like WhatsApp or Snapchat.

See our page on cyber bullying.

What must my school do?

Your school must, by law, have an anti-bullying policy. This is a document which says how the school will  stop bullying and handle complaints of bullying. Your school should follow this policy to decide how to act in your situation.

Schools are required by law to protect and promote the welfare of children. The school must take all reasonable steps to reduce the risks of harm to you and deal with concerns about your safety.

Schools should follow the approach of ‘prevention/intervention’ in dealing with bullying in school:


The school should do as much as possible to stop bullying from happening in the first place. School staff should collect information about problems between pupils which might lead to conflict and promote respect and good behaviour in the school.


Schools should have an anti-bullying policy and behaviour and discipline policy which tells them how to deal with bullying. Schools have the power to punish pupils, for example the use of detention or exclusion, in order to show that their behaviour is wrong. However, the school should also have a support system in place for the person who is doing the bullying in order to identify the cause of their bullying behaviour in case there is an underlying cause. This action may reduce or remove the risk of this behaviour happening in the future.

How can I get help?

If you are being bullied, you should talk to your parents, a teacher or someone else within the school, such as the safeguarding officer.  You should also see if the school has counselling services available. Talking to someone and asking for help is the first step in resolving the situation.

If you aren’t happy with the way the school has dealt with the bullying, you or your parents can make a complaint to the school following their complaints procedure.

If you do not wish to talk to a teacher or a relative, you can call Childline anonymously on 0800 1111 and talk about your worries with a trained adviser. Alternatively you can send us a message here and we can speak to you and give you advice.

Useful organisations

The Red Balloon Learner Centre can provide intensive care full time education for 9-18 year olds if:

  • you have been bullied or
  • you have suffered trauma and
  • do not have Special Educational Needs.

The Centre works to restore your confidence and slowly put you back into mainstream education or employment.

Your parents can request the Local Authority or your school fund a temporary placement here. They would need medical evidence to show that this is the only option for you.

There are several centres across the country (Cambridge, North West London, Norwich, Merseyside, Reading, Braintree, South Yorkshire, Preston, Warwick).

Bullying UK – information, support and advice on issues around bullying.

Childline – information, support and advice on bullying.