Being bullied is a terrible and often traumatic experience, which is far sadly far too common in schools up and down the UK. This is especially true for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children who face exceptional levels of bulling in schools. See below for lots of helpful information to make sure you can recognise a person who is being bullied and know what to do to help.


In this section, bullying will be broken down to help you understand what is, and what isn’t, bullying. Bullying isn’t always clear and obvious, often presenting in lots of ways. Being able to identify a child who is being bullied could literally save their life. Because we know the bullying of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children in schools is so common and often relentless, it is important to understand how Gypsy, Roma and Traveller are bullied and racially discriminated against, so the right support can be given. Whilst this page is mostly about the facts of bullying, we have a Find Help page on Bullying which offers advice and access to services which can support both families and children when they are struggling with bullying.

What sub-section are available on this page?

      • What is Bullying?
      • What is Cyberbullying?
      • Signs of Bullying
      • Effects of Bullying
      • Anti-Bullying In School

What is Bullying?

Bullying is typically defined as behaviour that is:

  • repeated
  • intended to hurt someone either physically or emotionally
  • often aimed at certain groups, for example because of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation

Bullying can take different forms. It could include:

    • physical bullying: hitting, slapping, or pushing someone
    • verbal bullying: name calling, gossiping, or threatening someone
    • non-verbal abuse: hand signs or text messages
    • emotional abuse: threatening, intimidating, or humiliating someone
    • exclusion: ignoring or isolating someone
    • undermining, constant criticism or spreading rumours
    • controlling or manipulating someone
    • making silent, hoax or abusive calls

The following types of bullying are also a hate crime:

  • racial, sexual, transphobic, or homophobic bullying
  • bullying someone because they have a disability.

Currently, there is no legal definition of bullying, however your school MUST have its own policy/ procedure to stop bullying and say how the school deals with instances of bullying. Schools should abide by their own policies; it is therefore important to read the relevant policy on bullying and hold the school to account under the terms set out in the relevant bullying policy. Click here to see a typical template of what you can expect an Anti-Bullying Policy to look like.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place online. Unlike bullying offline, online bullying can follow the child wherever they go, via social networks, gaming and mobile phone.

Cyberbullying can include:

    • sending threatening or abusive text messages
    • creating and sharing embarrassing images or videos
    • trolling – the sending of menacing or upsetting messages on social networks, chat rooms or online games
    • excluding children from online games, activities, or friendship groups
    • shaming someone online
    • setting up hate sites or groups about a particular child
    • encouraging young people to self-harm
    • voting for or against someone in an abusive poll
    • creating fake accounts, hijacking, or stealing online identities to embarrass a young person or cause trouble using their name
    • sending explicit messages, also known as sexting
    • pressuring children into sending sexual images or engaging in sexual conversations.

Signs of Bullying

No single sign will indicate for certain that your child’s being bullied, but watch out for:

  • belongings getting ‘lost’ or damaged
  • physical injuries, such as unexplained bruises
  • being afraid to go to school, being mysteriously ‘ill’ each morning, or skipping school
  • not doing as well at school
  • asking for, or stealing, money (to give to whoever’s bullying them)
  • being nervous, losing confidence, or becoming distressed and withdrawn
  • problems with eating or sleeping
  • bullying others.

Effects of Bullying

The effects of bullying can last into adulthood. At its worst, bullying has driven children and young people to self-harm and even suicide.

Children who are bullied:

    • may develop mental health problems like depression and anxiety
    • have fewer friendships
    • aren’t accepted by their peers
    • are wary and suspicious of others
    • have problems adjusting to school, and don’t do as well.

All children who are affected by bullying can suffer harm – whether they are bullied, they bully others or they witness bullying.

Anti-Bullying in Schools

All school should have an anti-bullying policy in place. This is a document which outlines the school’s approach to bullying and what the school has agreed to do to prevent bullying from happening, and what they will do when bullying occurs. Sometimes the anti-bullying policy may be contained in full or partly within a Behaviour Policy.

School policies are good for holding schools to account for their actions. If you feel the school has not supported your child when they have experienced bullying, or you think the school’s policy does not suitably protect your child, please seek support under our Find Help page on Bullying.

Latest News & Information