Some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. These include:
- violence or assault
- repeated harassment or intimidation, for example name calling, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages
- hate crimes
Schools and the law
By law, all state (not private) schools must have a behaviour policy in place that includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils.
This policy is decided by the school. All teachers, pupils and parents must be told what it is.
Schools must also follow anti-discrimination law. This means staff must act to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation within the school. This applies to all schools in England and Wales, and most schools in Scotland.
Northern Ireland has different anti-discrimination law.
You should report bullying to your school in the first place – or someone you trust if it happens outside school, for example in a club or online.
Tell the police if the bullying involves a crime.
Schools – reporting bullying
School staff will deal with bullying in different ways, depending on how serious the bullying is.
They might deal with it in school, for example by disciplining bullies, or they might report it to the police or social services.
Any discipline must take account of special educational needs or disabilities that the pupils involved may have.
You can complain about a school if you think it hasn’t dealt with your concerns.
Police – reporting bullying
Anyone can make a complaint to the police about bullying but it’s usually a good idea to speak to your school first.
If you’re reporting cyber-bullying, keep a record of the date and time of the calls, emails or texts – don’t delete any messages you receive.