Dealing with bullying

Bullying, in whatever form and for whatever reason, has no place in schools.

Being bullied

If you are being bullied at school, there are procedures to support you and there are organisations that offer help and information and advice if you need it.

For more information visit the NI Direct website at Dealing with bullying and getting support.  

Legislation and guidance for schools

The Department has taken pro-active steps to tackle bullying through the development and publication of guidance.

The Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 2003, requires all grant-aided schools to include within their discipline policy, an anti-bullying policy which includes measures to prevent  all forms of bullying among pupils. The effectiveness of these measures is monitored through the regular cycle of school inspections of pastoral care arrangements.

Guidance for schools in developing effective anti-bullying policies is included in the Department's publication 'Pastoral Care in Schools - Promoting Positive Behaviour'.


The Department provides funding to assist Childline NI to continue to provide their helpline for children and young people who wish to talk to someone about any concerns or worries they may have, including fears about bullying.  The helpline is open 24/7 and is free of charge - Tel: 0800 1111

Counselling Service in Schools

The Independent Counselling Service for Schools (ICSS) is available in all grant aided post-primary schools allowing pupils to speak to a trained counsellor about their concerns or fears around bullying.  Pupils can self refer or be referred by the school or their parents/carers.

Research into bullying

In October 2011 the Department published a research report on The Nature and Extent of Pupil Bullying in Schools in the North of Ireland. The findings show little change in the level of bullying behaviour reported by pupils compared to earlier studies published in 2002 and 2007.

Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF)

The Department funds and is a member of the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) which is hosted by the National Children's Bureau (NCB).

NCB employs a Regional Anti-Bullying Coorinator, Rosanna Jack, to guide and progress the implementation of the 3 year anti-bullying strategy, including making arrangements to promote an annual Anti-Bullying Week.

The Forum is currently chaired by a member of the voluntary sector (Parenting NI)  and a member from the Education Authority (statutory sector) holds the Vice-chair.

The Forum has a membership of over 20 statutory and voluntary organisations all acting together to identify and champion future anti-bullying priorities. The NIABF has a range of different Task Groups which focus on anti-bullying themes and put into action work that is required to further develop the anti-bullying strategy. These operational groups are made up of Forum members and additional organisations with relevant expertise (linked to the group's theme).

Current task groups include:

  • planning NIABF activities for Anti-Bullying Week which takes place in November each year. Membership of this group changes according to the theme that year’s Anti-Bullying Week is aiming to raise awareness of
  • disablist bullying - developing NIABF information and updates regarding bullying related to perceived or actual disability
  • homophobic bullying - developing NIABF information and updates regarding bullying related to perceived or actual sexual orientation
  • transphobic bullying - developing NIABF information and updates regarding bullying realted to transgender issues
  • sectarian bullying - developing NIABF information and updates regarding bullying related to sectarian divisions
  • early years - developing NIABF information and updates regarding bullying related among younger children

NIABF is represented on the British and Irish Anti-Bullying Forum that comprises one statutory and one voluntary representative each from England, Scotland, Wales, and from both jurisdictions in Ireland. The British and Irish Anti-Bullying Forum (BIABF) is working towards strengthening information sharing between representatives, and opportunities for developing joint solutions to tackle bullying of children and young people.

There are many resources and signposts to help on the NIABF website, and these leaflets for parents and carers are just a sample of the information available. Downloadable versions are available by clicking on the links below.

Further information for parents can be found on the Education Support website.

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