Signs of bullying and how to deal with it

Could you spot bullying in your classroom? Would you know how to deal with it? Here are 8 signs of bullying and how to tackle the issue.


What are the signs of bullying and how can you support children who are being bullied?

All teachers and support staff should refer to, and follow the school anti-bullying policy and behaviour policy for their establishment. The following information should be used as a guide only. Further guidance can be found at:  NSPCC and DfE.

8 Signs of bullying

  1. Belongings getting “lost” or damaged
  2. Physical injuries such as unexplained bruises
  3. Being afraid to go to school, being mysteriously ‘ill’ each morning, or skipping school
  4. Not doing as well at school
  5. Asking for, or stealing, money (to give to a bully)
  6. Being nervous, losing confidence, or becoming distressed and withdrawn
  7. roblems with eating or sleeping
  8. Bullying others.


Of course, children may exhibit one or more of the above and NOT be being bullied, so it is important to talk about it try to gather further information/evidence if there is cause for concern.

Strategies for tackling bullying

1 – Talk about it

It’s important to explain to children what bullying is and to ensure that they understand it is not acceptable. Provide a quiet environment and tell them who they can talk to about it, and encourage them to share their problems in their own time.


Not sure how to start the conversation? Check out this advice on talking about difficult topics.

2 – Make sure they know where to go for help

If a child is being bullied they might be scared to ask for help, because they think it’ll make the bullying worse. Let them know they can always talk to you, or another trusted adult such  as another teacher or family member.


If they don’t want to talk to you, you could suggest they contact ChildLine where a counsellor will provide a listening ear. They don’t have to give their name and they can talk about anything that is worrying them.


3 – Help them find other things to do

If children are being bullied they may feel down, worried or lack confidence. Help them find things to do that make them feel good like listening to music or playing sport. Schools offer many clubs during lunch times and after school. Try and get them involved in something that interests them (and may also help them to make some new friends). Give them opportunities to help build their confidence.


ChildLine has friendly advice and tips for children on building their self-esteem, being more assertive and coping with embarrassment.

4 – Teach them to stay safe online

Cyberbullying is on the rise and many children will be exposed to this sort of abuse at some point during their school career/childhood. It’s important to extend the conversation about bullying to include this area and to ensure that your children understand that it is not acceptable and should be dealt with in an appropriate manner.


Thinkuknow has advice on online safety for young people that is suitable for different age groups. Their website shows children how to contact social media sites if they believe someone has posted something upsetting about them.


Block’em is a free app for Android users that blocks unwanted calls and text messages from specified numbers. Their website also provides advice for iOS7 users.

5 – Collect evidence

There were 25,700 Childline counselling sessions about bullying last year. Sadly, some of these cases became criminal investigations. It is a good idea to gather evidence at school, and to encourage parents to do the same at home, in case it is needed.


You could:


  • keep a diary of bullying incidents, including dates, times and descriptions of what is happening
  • retain any evidence you can,  such as:
    • text messages
    • screenshots of webpages
    • photos of bruises or any other marks to the body
    • photos of any damage to possessions


Some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police (parents should be included in the discussion first) These include:

  • violence or assault
  • theft
  • repeated harassment or intimidation, eg name calling, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages
  • hate crimes


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