scots law
basic advice from govan law centre

bullied at school - what you can do


Bullying and the Law

What is Bullying?

There are lots of different things that get called "bullying".  Punching, kicking, spitting, stealing, teasing, name calling, being ignored and shut out, spreading rumours.  All of these can be types of bullying and other things can be bullying too.


I'm being bullied, what can I do about it?

The first and most important thing that you have to do is to tell someone at the school.  Although this can be scary, and you may have been threatened not to, you have to let your school know, if you want them to do anything about it.  You do not have to tell the Headteacher if you do not want to.  Choose a teacher you like and tell them what is happening to you.  Or tell your parents and get them to tell the school.


What will the school do?

Different schools have different ways of dealing with bullying, but they all should have a policy on how they help people who are being bullied.  You can ask your school for a copy of this policy, or get your parents to do this for you.

Your school, by law, must make sure that any bullying does not affect your schooling or education.  If you are being bullied, this makes it more difficult to concentrate on your work and your marks may go down.  The school has to try and stop this happening.  The easiest way to do this is to stop the bullying.

The school may offer to let you stay in doors at break times or get a senior pupil to look out for you.  They might take action against the people who are bullying you.

The school, by law, must try to make sure that you are safe when you are at school under their supervision.  This includes: on the school bus; at after-school homework classes or other clubs; at lunch time and play time; and on school trips or holidays.


What if my school won't help me?

If you have told the school about the bullying, almost all schools will try their hardest to help you.  If the bullying doesn't stop, you must keep telling them about it, so that they don't think that it is not a problem when it is.  If you have told the school and, for some reason, they don't do anything to help you, you (or your parents) may be able to take them to court.  You will need expert legal advice on this first.


Do I have to go to school if I am being bullied?

In most cases, yes.  Again, you must make sure that you have told the school that you are being bullied.  If you have told them, but they haven't helped you, and there is a real danger that you will be injured if you go to school, then your parents may be able to keep you at home, until the problem is sorted.  You will need expert legal advice on this first.

If you have not told the school, but stay off anyway, you may be referred to a children's panel for truancy, or your parents may be charged with a criminal offence.

If the Council agree, you may be able to arrange to be educated at home.


What else can I do?

If someone at school attacks you or steals something from you, that is a crime.  You should ask the school to report it to the police.  If they don't report it, then you or your parents can go to the police yourselves.


This information is designed to give a general guide to bullying and the law in schools. It does not set out in detail the rights and obligations placed upon pupils, parents and schools.  For detailed advice on your individual circumstances, you should consult a solicitor experienced in Scots education law.