Posted: 05 July 2016

Bullying – let’s talk about it

Our research shows that bullying has a detrimental impact on children and young people; children who are bullied have lower levels of well-being, are more likely to live in poverty and may be at risk of being abused.

Children in England are among the unhappiest in the world

Our Good Childhood Report 2015 found that England ranked bottom for a number of aspects of children’s wellbeing, including those relating to school life, bullying and, especially for teenage girls, feelings about themselves, compared with the 14 countries involved in the international study on children’s well-being. 

The research showed the profound impact bullying can have on children’s lives, with children in England who were bullied frequently being six times more likely to have low well-being than children who have not been bullied.

Bullying, emotional bullying in particular emerged as a key issue in England in comparison to other countries. Our research shows that more than a third (38%) of 10 and 12 year olds in England had been physically bullied in the last month, and half (50%) had felt excluded.

Bullying and the link to self-esteem

Learning from practice base finds close links between poor self-esteem and bullying.

Our Seriously Awkward: How vulnerable 16–17 year olds are falling through the cracks report examined the relationship between poor self-esteem and risk factors, which as we know from our direct work with vulnerable young people is often an underlying factor in cases of grooming and sexual exploitation.

The report found that of the young people who had risk factors present in their lives, 36% said they felt useless at times and 6.3% said they don’t feel likeable.

Other drivers of bullying – material possessions

Children who lack a greater number of basic items have significantly lower subjective well-being.

As well as being linked to low well-being, our research into the cost of school among children living in low-income families revealed that where children were struggling with school costs, in many cases this led to embarrassment and bullying.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of children in families who are ‘not well off at all’ said they had been embarrassed because they couldn’t afford a cost of school. More than a quarter (27%) said they had been bullied as a result.

What needs to change?

To help clamp down on the negative impact of bullying and other major issues affecting children in schools, we are urging the Government to make it a legal requirement for schools in England to provide counselling to pupils to bring it in line with Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Government should also use some of the additional CAMHS investment to provide programmes to promote positive mental health and well-being – particularly targeting particular groups of children (such as those affected by bullying and living outside of the family) for whom levels of well-being are known to be lower. 


By Kadra Abdinasir - Policy team

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Children suffer bullying and embarrassment as families struggle with school costs

Posted: 28 October 2014