Anti-bullying advice and new insights from Childline

What is Anti-Bullying Week?

This annual event co-ordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance aims to raise awareness of bullying of children and young people. It also highlights ways of stopping bullying, and how to respond to it. 

Find out more at: and get involved on social media using #AntiBullyingWeek #OneKindWord #OddSocksDay @ABAonline


New insights into bullying from Childline


Childline is our counselling service for children. Children and young people from across the UK can contact our counsellors by email, chat or phone, for free confidential support and advice. 

Last year (2020/21) our counsellors delivered 6,654 sessions about bullying – and analysis highlights how, while for some children lockdowns were a respite from bullies, for many the bullying transferred online. 

"I’ve been bullied for the past 6 years - it started in primary school. I have no one and it feels like everyone hates me and is better off without me. I’ve tried to make friends but I feel like I’m invisible. I’ve not really told anyone because I don’t want to bring attention to it. I’ve not been to school for a while because of COVID and my mum is thinking about home-schooling me as she’s noticed I’m a lot less anxious not being at school every day."
Girl, aged 13

Analysis of Childline data shows how bullying adapted to the obstacles of the pandemic: sessions about bullying in person have more than halved compared with the year before (2019/20), while sessions about online bullying have increased by 25%.

"The bullying I used to get at school has gone online now because we are not going to school due to the virus. I am getting horrible messages sent to me and nasty comments about everything I post. One message that really upset me said my mum was going to die of coronavirus. The bullying is getting worse now than when I was at school."
Girl, aged 14

The number of counselling sessions on in person and online bullying rose and fell in line with the national lockdowns’ coming into force and easing:

  • in February 2021 during the third national lockdown, Childline delivered 216 counselling sessions to children on bullying in person and 213 on online bullying
  • in March 2021 as children returned to school, Childline delivered 523 counselling sessions about bullying in person and 171 on online bullying.

Anti-bullying resources for families

If you're being bullied at school or online, you can:

  1. Share how you are feeling with other young people.
    Childline’s online message board is a non-judgemental space where you can speak to other children who are in a similar situation to you about your experiences and feelings. This can help you feel less alone and will give you an online support network that you can turn to.

  2. Talk to an adult you trust about the bullying you are experiencing so you feel less alone and so that adult can support you. This could be a parent, teacher or you can speak to a Childline counsellor on 0800 1111 or online at

  3. Take a break from your device if you are being bullied online and do something you enjoy such as sport, listening to music or art.

  4. Remember the bullying is not your fault.

  5. Get into a healthy routine and make sure you look after yourself by eating healthily, getting enough sleep and taking time out for yourself.

  6. Report and block someone if they are sending you messages online that upset you.

What to do if you think your child is being bullied:

  1. Talk to your child and remind them to come to you with anything that might be making them feel anxious or sad. If your child speaks to you about an experience of bullying that they’ve had online or in person, try to remain calm and don’t overwhelm them with questions and reassure them that it will be ok, and that you’re always there for them.
  2. Show them how to report or block a message that they’ve received from someone online that upsets or worries them.

  3. Don’t take their device away if they’ve had a negative experience online. Although you may want to do this if they're upset, this may make them feel like whatever has happened is their fault. Instead, suggest they take some time away from the app they received the messages on and do another online activity they enjoy like playing a game. 

  4. Know where you can get further support. Adults can call the our helpline for free confidential advice and support. We have more advice and information about bullying and cyberbullying on our website.

Signs a child may be being bullied in person:

  • belongings are getting lost or damaged
  • physical injuries such as unexplained bruises
  • being afraid to go to school
  • not doing as well at school
  • being nervous, losing confidence, or becoming distressed and withdrawn
  • problems with eating or sleeping
  • bullying others.

Signs a child may be being bullied online:

  • not wanting to go to school or take part in normal activities
  • getting anxious or angry if you go near their device
  • feeling withdrawn, upset or angry at home.
  • problems sleeping or eating
  • having angry outbursts that seem out of character
  • spending more or less time online than normal.

Alex Gray, Head of Volunteer Operations:

"Our counsellors spoke to many children who said that the bullying that they experienced in person prior to the pandemic transferred online during the national lockdowns. 

Many of these children as well as others who experienced this issue before the pandemic told Childline that the lockdowns made the online bullying feel even more overwhelming. 

They told us that the extra time they were spending online for their education, entertainment and to keep in contact with loved ones was making the bullying feel inescapable.

Although Childline has heard from a significantly lower number of children about in-person bullying over the past year, we saw counselling sessions on this issue peak at times when the lockdowns were lifted and when children returned to school.

For some children, the lockdowns provided them some respite from the bullying that they had previously experienced meaning many felt really anxious at the thought of returning to school.

As we continue to move out of the pandemic and adjust to the new normal, it is essential that children know where to turn to for support. Our trained counsellors are always here for children and believe that no child should have to deal with bullying alone.”