Tackling the challenge of identity-based bullying

Pupil raising their hand in a classroom

The Triennial Review, 'How fair is Britain?' focused attention on the need to tackle the high incidence of identity-based bullying of young people, both within schools and the wider community.

Reducing incidence of homophobic, transphobic, disability-related and religiously motivated bullying in schools and workplaces was identified as one of the 15 significant challenges for society to address.

Our research

Our research report, 'Prevention and Response to identity-based bullying among Local Authorities in England, Scotland and Wales', responds directly to this challenge. The overall aim of the report is to establish the extent and effectiveness of local authorities’ and schools’ actions to prevent and respond to prejudice-based bullying of young people both inside and outside of school, on the grounds of disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation.

Report launch

To launch the report, we co-hosted a lively ‘questions time’ style debate with Westminster Academy in London. The Minister for Schools Nick Gibb MP joined the Commission's deputy chair Baroness Margaret Prosser and Richard Piggin from Beatbullying in responding to questions from stakeholders from across the education and third sector and students from Westminster Academy.

Find out more about the debate and watch videos of the expert panel.

Summary of findings (expand text)

  1. ‘Identity-based’ (or ‘Prejudice-based’) bullying is widespread and continues to blight the lives of many young people, affecting educational attainment and having a long term impact on their life chances. A common cause is children’s, and sometimes teachers’ poor understanding of diversity
     
  2. Schools (and local authorities) need to know the extent of the problem and reasons for any bullying. Recording incidents of the different types of prejudice-based bullying is therefore crucial.

    Without the appropriate baseline data it is impossible to know the extent of bullying, or monitor the impact of interventions and progress on tackling the problem, or direct resources where they are most needed.

    Our survey revealed support for a statutory requirement to record and report incidents of prejudice-based bullying, in order to understand the problem and target action and resources where it is needed most.
     
  3. Greater guidance and support is needed to help schools take action against prejudice-based bullying.

    Our research shows that guidance plays a crucial role in directing anti-bullying work and focussing attention on particular areas. Central government guidance, such as ‘Safe to Learn’ has been well received and more practical guidance from government and non-government organisations was asked for by some respondents.
     
  4. In order to effectively tackle this form of bullying, specific preventative strategies must be adopted such as a ‘whole school approach’ which considers all the equality strands, and focuses on tackling prejudice. Focus within: whole school policies, equality action plans, assemblies, PHSE and citizenship curriculum.

    Preventative measures are crucial as bullying of this type is a response to prejudice and may happen due to poor understanding of diversity. Bullying of LGB young people and disabled children, including those with learning difficulties shows a particularly strong relationship to prejudiced attitudes held throughout the school.

Next steps

We want the new research to act as a catalyst for action on this challenge. It identifies some solutions to the issue, and our forthcoming policy roundtable aims to start discussions on how we can get the coordinated action across Government, the education and voluntary sector that is needed to tackle the issue.

Watch the panel of guests from the launch event including Nick Gibb MP, Minister for Schools, discuss the findings of the report and hear their thoughts on tackling identity based bullying in schools.

Further reading

Find out about 'How fair is Britain?' our first Triennial Review.

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