What to do about bullying out of school hours

Estimated read: 8 minutes 

Bullying out of school hours can be really distressing. It can often by people they know from school but sometimes by people who live nearby. 

Key points: 

  • If these children are pupils at the same school as your child then it's sensible to warn the school that trouble at home could spill over into school
  • If the bullying behaviour could be criminal or poses a serious threat to a member of the public, the police should always be informed
  • If there is trouble between families who live in council or housing association homes then the council might arrange mediation to see if the problem can be sorted out or take action if the their is anti social behaviour
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What help can you get?

Bullying outside school is any incident of bullying that occurs anywhere off the school premises. If these children are pupils at the same school as your child then it's sensible to warn the school that trouble at home could spill over into school. Headteachers have the legal power to discipline their pupils for bullying incidents that occur outside of schools premises, as described above. The headteacher is only permitted to discipline the pupil to a reasonable extent, in line with the school’s discipline policy. 

The Department for Education’s guidance for preventing and tackling bullying states that “where bullying outside the school is reported to school staff, it should be investigated and acted on.” The guidance also states that the headteacher of your child’s school should also consider whether it is appropriate to notify the police or anti-social behaviour co-ordinator in your local authority about the incident. 

Please note that if the bullying behaviour could be criminal or poses a serious threat to a member of the public, the police should always be informed. This will include online or offline harassment, threats of violence, physical violence, sexualised behaviour, etc.

Bystanders have a vital role

Unfortunately young people who witness bullying like this are often afraid to tell the police what they saw in case they get bullied too so it can be helpful if you know the names of adults who have seen this happening to you.

There are now police community support officers and they often help in cases like this by talking to both sides and trying to sort it out before it gets out of hand. In serious cases the police will take statements and might recommend that charges are brought against the bully. If the bully admits what they have done the case might not go to court but the bully might get a caution instead which is an official warning. There are other people who can help apart from the police.

Bullying by neighbours' children

Bullying by neighbours' children is a very tricky problem that can escalate into a long term dispute. Some parents have said they intend to move home to get away from the problem. Younger children can be desperately upset at being excluded and can often feel isolated and left out. Inviting pupils from school home regularly is a good idea because then if your younger child has problems locally they will still have playmates.

Trouble with neighbours

If there is trouble between families who live in council or housing association homes then the council might arrange mediation to see if the problem can be sorted out or take action if the their is anti social behaviour. In serious cases where young people are violent and abusive the police or council can apply for an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) or their parents could be warned that if they keep misbehaving the family could be made to move out of their rented home. If you are renting privately or own your home, it is important to get some help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Further resources 

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at askus@familylives.org.uk or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker.

This page was updated on August 2021

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