Each of the UK nations has its own anti-bullying legislation, policy and guidance.  Policies must also comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
The 1950 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is an international treaty which gives a set of rights to both adults and children. It was enacted in the UK as the Human Rights Act 1998. It protects individuals from the actions of public bodies (such as governments, local authorities and schools – although not necessarily private schools). If an individual thinks that their rights have been breached by a public body, they can take their case to court.

Rights set out in the convention include: the right to life, the right to be kept safe from torture and cruel treatment, freedom from slavery, the right to a fair trial, the right to respect for private and family life, and the right to an education.

Download the European Convention on Human Rights 
View the Human Rights Act 1998

Legislation

The Education Act 2002

Places a duty on school governing bodies in England and Wales to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in their care.

All state schools must have a behaviour policy in place which includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. The policy is decided by the school. Staff, parents and pupils must be made aware of it.

View the Education Act 2002

The Equality Act 2010 

Places a duty on all school staff in England, Wales and Scotland to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation within the school.

View the Equality Act 2010

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001

Part 2 the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 amends Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It prohibits schools in England, Wales and Scotland from discriminating against disabled children through admissions, education services or exclusions.

View the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 

Requires schools in England, Wales and Scotland to draw up a race equality policy and ensure that policies don't discriminate against racial groups.

View the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Allows claims of discrimination due to disability to be brought in England, Wales and Scotland. Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was amended to apply to schools by Part 2 the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001.

View the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 

Policy and guidance

Keeping children safe in education

statutory guidance for schools and colleges

Published in April 2014, and updated in March 2015, by the Department for Education (DfE). This statutory guidance sets out what schools and colleges in England should do, and the legal duties they must comply with, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Download Keeping children safe in education: statutory guidance for schools and colleges (PDF)
(Department for Education, 2015)

Read our Briefing on updated statutory guidance for schools in England (PDF)

Preventing and tackling bullying

advice for headteachers, staff and governing bodies

Published in March 2014 by the Department for Education (DfE).

This guidance gives school staff advice on preventing and responding to bullying as part of their behaviour policy, covering:

  • the government’s approach to bullying
  • legal obligations and the powers schools have to tackle bullying
  • the principles underpinning the most effective anti-bullying strategies in schools.

A factsheet is also available with advice for schools about supporting children and young people who are bullied.

Download Preventing and tackling bullying: advice for headteachers, staff and governing bodies

Download Supporting children and young people who are bullied: advice for schools

Legislation

The Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 2003

Requires all state schools to have an anti-bullying policy which has measures to prevent all forms of bullying amongst pupils.

View the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 2003

Policy and guidance

Pastoral care in schools

promoting positive behaviour

Published in 2001 by the Department of Education Northern Ireland. Provides guidance for schools in developing anti-bullying policies.

Download Pastoral care in schools: promoting positive behaviour

Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF)

The Department of Education, Northern Ireland (DENI) funds and is a member of the NIABF. The NIABF meets 4 times a year to:

  • discuss and implement anti-bullying policy and practice
  • identify future anti-bullying priorities for children and young people.

View the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum website.

Legislation

Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000 

Places a duty on local authorities and schools to educate children so they are able to develop their personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to the fullest potential.

View Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000 

Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004

Requires local authorities and schools to give extra help to all children and young people with additional support needs, including bullying.

View Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 

Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 

Local authorities must make sure schools are ‘health promoting’. This includes promoting ‘the mental, emotional, social and physical health and well-being of all children and young people’.

View Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 

Policy and guidance

Getting it right for every child

Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) is the Scottish government’s approach to making a positive difference for all children and young people in Scotland. Its principles help shape all policy, practice and legislation that affects children and their families.

It provides a consistent way for people to support and work with all children and young people in Scotland. It aims to improve outcomes for children and make sure that agencies work together to take action when a child is at risk or needs support.

GIRFEC is based on 10 core components that can be applied in any setting and any circumstance. Progress is measured through a set of 8 wellbeing indicators that are the basic requirements for all children and young people to grow and develop and reach their full potential.

Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) says children should be:


  • safe
  • healthy
  • achieving
  • nurtured
  • active
  • respected
  • responsible
  • included


An updated guide to GIRFEC was published by the Scottish Government in 2012. The GIRFEC approach is reinforced by measures in the The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

Download A guide to getting it right for every child

View the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

A national approach to anti-bullying for Scotland’s children and young people

Published in 2009, this approach was developed by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Anti-Bullying Steering Group.

Download A national approach to anti-bullying for Scotland’s children and young people

Respectme

Scotland’s anti-bullying service is funded by the Scottish Government. Respectme is managed by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) in partnership with LGBT Youth Scotland.

View the respectme website

Legislation

The Education Act 2002

Places a duty on school governing bodies in England and Wales to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in their care.

All state schools must have a behaviour policy in place which includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. The policy is decided by the school. Staff, parents and pupils must be made aware of it.

View the Education Act 2002

The Equality Act 2010 

Places a duty on all school staff in England, Wales and Scotland to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation within the school.

View the Equality Act 2010

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001

Part 2 the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 amends Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It prohibits schools in England, Wales and Scotland from discriminating against disabled children through admissions, education services or exclusions.

View the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 

Requires schools in England, Wales and Scotland to draw up a race equality policy and ensure that policies don't discriminate against racial groups.

View the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Allows claims of discrimination due to disability to be brought in England, Wales and Scotland. Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was amended to apply to schools by Part 2 the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001.

View the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 

Policy and guidance

Respecting others

anti-bullying guidance

Published by the Welsh Government in 2011. Provides guidance and practical solutions on preventing and responding to incidents of bullying in schools. There is detailed guidance on:

  • bullying around race, religion and culture
  • bullying around special educational needs and disabilities
  • cyberbullying
  • homophobic bullying
  • sexist, sexual and transphobic bullying.

Download Respecting others: anti-bullying guidance

Child protection in the UK

How the systems and laws of the UK and its 4 nations work to keep children safe from abuse and harm.
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Our research and resources on bullying and cyberbullying

Read our research reports, briefings and leaflets about bullying and cyberbullying.

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