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Tackling Identity Based Bullying

Tackling Identity-based Bullying in Regard to Protected Characteristics

Bullying behaviour is defined as

“behaviour by an individual or group – usually repeated over time – that intentionally hurts another individual or group, either physically or emotionally.”

Bullying can take many forms:

  • physical bullying (including hitting, kicking, pinching or taking things)
  • verbal bullying (including, name calling, put downs, threats, teasing, ridiculing, belittling, excessive criticism or sarcasm)
  • indirect bullying (rumours or stories, exclusion from a group, invading privacy, graffiti designed to embarrass, withholding friendship)
  • cyber/Online bullying (sending nasty phone calls, text messages or emails/chat rooms. Linked to schools’ Acceptable Use Policy. Cyberbullying can happen at all times of day and night.

The Law

Equality Act 2010 Guidance for Schools
The Act defines four kinds of unlawful behaviour -

  • direct discrimination
  • indirect discrimination
  • harassment and
  • victimisation.

Schools and settings have a duty to ensure that prospective, present, and past pupils who have the protected characteristics of sex, race, disability religion and belief, sexual orientation, gender reassignment and pregnancy and maternity are not subjected to these forms of unlawful behaviour.

Although the relationship between one pupil and another is not within the scope of the Act (see paragraph 1.7), schools need to ensure that all forms of prejudice-motivated bullying are taken seriously and dealt with equally and firmly.

The Education and Inspections Act 2006 - Section 89 provides that maintained schools must have measures to encourage good behaviour and prevent all forms of bullying amongst pupils. These measures should be part of the school’s behaviour policy which must be communicated to all pupils, school staff and parents.

The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 provide that the proprietor of an Academy or other independent school ensures that bullying at the school is prevented in so far as reasonably practicable, by the drawing up and implementation of an effective anti-bullying strategy.

Children Act 1989 Safeguarding Children and Young People
When there is ‘reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm’ a bullying incident should be addressed as a child protection concern under the Children Act 1989. Where this is the case, the school staff should discuss with the school’s designated safeguarding lead and report their concerns to their local authority children’s social care and work with them to take appropriate action.
Full details can be found in Part One of Keeping Children Safe in Education.

Criminal Law - although bullying in itself is not a specific criminal offence in the UK, it is important to bear in mind that some types of harassing or threatening behaviour – or communications – could be a criminal offence, for example under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the Malicious Communications Act 1988, the Communications Act 2003, and the Public Order Act 1986.

If school staff feel that an offence may have been committed, they should seek assistance from the police.

School's Accountability Under Ofsted

Bullying is now covered under ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’.

  • Schools should be able to demonstrate the impact of anti-bullying policies. i.e. how effectively schools prevent or deal with any incidents.
  • Ofsted will expect schools to provide an environment in which pupils feel safe, and in which bullying, discrimination and peer-on-peer abuse – online or offline– are not accepted and are dealt with quickly, consistently and effectively whenever they occur.
  • They will be analysing evidence and records of bullying, discriminatory and prejudiced behaviour, either directly or indirectly, including racist, sexist, disability and homophobic, biphobic, transphobic bullying, use of derogatory language and racist incidents. and expect these to feature in staff, pupil and parental surveys.

How Can the Equality Diversity Inclusion Team Help?

The Equality Diversity Inclusion Team (EDIT) provide specialist advice and support which will enable all staff in educational settings to develop their understanding and skills when responding to and preventing identity-based (prejudice) behaviours and bullying.

The service also deliver training to develop participants knowledge and skills so they can recognise, record, respond to and explore curriculum opportunities to prevent incidents of bullying from happening.

  • Racist Incidents: recognising, recording, reporting, responding to and preventing racist incidents.
  • Equipping staff to tackle homophobic and biphobic bullying in primary and secondary schools.
  • Supporting Trans and Non-binary pupils in school. Combatting transphobic bullying.

These are available through CPD Online and as bespoke training to schools and MATs.
EDIT also offer workshops which help children and young people to develop critical thinking skills and explore controversial issues such as stereotyping, identity, radicalisation, racism, gender identity based bullying.

Please click on the relevant buttons below for further details on how EDIT can help you.

Contact Us

You can get in touch with us using our designated contact page - contact EDIT here!