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Prevention and response to identity-based bullying among local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales


Equality, bullying related to race or ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender, guidance and recommendations for Local Authorities




Policy Makers, Headteachers, Researchers


Published by the Equality & Human Rights Commission
Authors Neil Tippett, Catherine Houlston, Peter K. Smith
Unit for School and Family Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London


United Kingdom




Policy Makers, Researchers, School Directors.


Identity-based bullying refers to any form of bullying related to the characteristics considered unique to a child’s identity, such as their race,religion, sexual orientation or physical appearance.

The project was commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights
Commission in December 2009 with the aim of establishing what local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales are doing to prevent and respond to identity-based bullying, both in schools and in the wider community.

The actual research, carried out by the Unit for School and Family Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London, highlights the widespread problem of bullying based on student' identities both in schools and in the wider community. Evidence was obtained through three sources:

• a review of relevant academic literature and published and grey
literature produced by key stakeholders and anti-bullying
• stakeholder interviews conducted with national anti bullying
• a survey on preventative and responsive measures to identity-
based bullying, which was sent to all local authorities in
England, Scotland and Wales

The studies reviewed illustrate how any individual characteristic that distinguishes a child from the rest of their peer group can increase the risk of bullying, ranging from looking or behaving
differently to holding personal or religious beliefs which set them apart from the rest of their peer group.

Survey and Stakeholder interviews did not receive high response levels from Local Authorities but it was felt the responses were comparative to other large scale surveys and sufficient to support the report's 10 areas of recommendations relating to the prevention of and response to identity based bullying:

The 10 areas in which recommendations are made are:

Policy & Guidance
Organisation of anti-bullying work
Teacher/practitioner training
Prevention and a whole school approach
Response to identity based bullying
Wider community
Key issues in preventing and responding


Definition of bullying or cyberbullying, Detection protocol.


We have included this report as one of our 'Good Practices' because we feel it comprehensively addresses one of the slightly more neglected areas of bullying - that of identity based bullying. The report, which we feel should be really helpful for Policy Makers and Headteachers, is quite lengthy (147 pages in total), has an excellent Executive Summary which sets out clearly the work undertaken, the conclusions reached and makes recommendations for the prevention of identity based bullying in 10 areas

We also agree with the suggestion that for all forms of identity-based bullying, preventative strategies that raise awareness and understanding of why people differ,accompanied with an environment which promotes diversity and inclusion, are of prime importance in tackling prejudiced behaviours.

The report highlights some interesting statistics:

One in six lesbian, gay or transgender students received death threats at secondary school.

Two thirds of gay students are bullied at secondary school with a serious impact on their career paths and employment after education.

Young people who are being bullied are 15% less likely to achieve five GCSEs at grades A* to C and twice as likely to not be in employment or training at the age of 16.

75% of local authorities had evidence related to racism in schools, 40% had evidence of bullying related to sexual orientation, gender and religion or belief and around 30% had evidence for disability related bullying.

From the 10 areas of recommendations we felt the most interesting were:

Focus should be placed on raising awareness of identity-based bullying at both a government and non-government level and by providing practical guidance.

Local Authorities (LAs) are encouraged to appoint a designated anti-bullying coordinator, and that the funding and resources are made available for this.

LAs should play a greater role in promoting and delivering
identity-based bullying training not only to teachers but also to those involved with other children’s services and those interacting with children and young people within the community.This training can be facilitated and informed by national anti-bullying organisations and stakeholders within each country through a ‘train the trainer’ approach.

About half of LAs were unaware of guidance relating to bullying of Gypsies, Roma or Travellers or refugees. Two thirds of LAs also indicated the need for greater support around preventative
strategies,particularly in terms of resources - the report therefore recommends that better support is provided to LAs to help them develop preventative strategies which address all forms of identity-based bullying.

There should be a more coordinated approach between schools and
organisations working with children in the wider community. This
coordinated approach can be achieved through multi-agency working,
coordinated by a strategic lead on anti-bullying within each local authority.

There should be a requirement for schools to record and report
incidents for all types of identity-based bullying should be introduced, in line with the positive support from LAs for this measure. This will provide the necessary data to measure the prevalence of bullying over time, which should be a key indicator on progress towards equality.

Attention should be placed on raising awareness and understanding of what identity or prejudice bullying is and how it differs
to non-prejudice related bullying, for all stakeholders and practitioners who work with children and young people.

Overall, this is an excellent and well written report. pages


Roger Murfin


Wilsthorpe Community School


Business Manager

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