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9.11 Breakaway Countering Bullying and Peer Abuse 


This chapter outlines to children and young people, parents/carers and social workers, Breakaway’s policy on responding to bullying within the unit.


Countering Bullying and Peer Abuse Procedure

Breakaway Confidentiality Procedure

This chapter was added to the manual in June 2013.


  1. Policy
  2. Procedure

1. Policy

All children and young people, staff members and visitors to Breakaway have the right to feel safe and secure within the unit and the wider community.

Children’s services should ensure that residential staff are aware of the particular vulnerability of looked after children and their susceptibility to bullying and put in place procedures to recognise, record and address any instances of bullying.

Why Looked after Children are at Particular Risk

All bullies will target victims by focusing on something about the victim that is different in order to try to justify their behaviour. This may be the victim’s appearance, weight, height or other physical feature, or it may be something else that makes the victim stand out from the majority of their peers, social class, religion or ethnicity. Having a disability could also make individuals a potential victim.

Who are the Bullies?

There are many reasons why children and adults bully. Some may do it to cope with a difficult situation in their own life such as a family breakdown. Others will see it as a way of gaining status from their peers. Some are just used to getting their own way and may not even recognise the effect of their actions on their victims.

Some children and adults will become bullies as a result of being victims themselves. It therefore needs to be recognised that the reason for some children becoming victims are also reasons for others becoming bullies.

This will have potential implications for residential staff caring for a group of children and needs to be borne in mind if it is suspected that any child is being bullied.


Bullying can be defined as the behaviour and/or actions of one person or group, which causes distress to another person or group as a result of physical threat, assault, verbal threats or abuse e.g. teasing, horseplay, isolation, blackmail etc.

Most bullying will include:

  • Deliberate hostility and aggression to the victim;
  • A victim who is weaker and less powerful than the bullies;
  • Distress and pain for the victim.

Bulling is often ongoing but can also be a one off incident and might include:

  • Verbal abuse, including persistent teasing or name calling, rumours being spread;
  • Physical abuse, including actual or threatened harm, including being pulled/pushed;
  • Sexual abuse, including unwanted physical contact or verbal abuse including abusive comments on the victim’s sexuality;
  • Racial abuse, which may be physical, written or verbal;
  • Emotional abuse, including, tormenting or subjecting the victim to persistent ridicule or humiliation, having things taken and/or thrown around, being isolated, being forced to do something you do not want to do;
  • Abuse of authority or responsibility by a member of staff towards children/young people.

Possible Signs of Bullying

Any of the following behaviours may include that an individual is the victim of bullying. Equally, there may be other explanations that should also be considered.

  • Change their usual routine;
  • Be unwilling to go to school/Breakaway/work;
  • Feel ill in the mornings;
  • Begin to deteriorate at school work;
  • Become withdrawn, start stammering and lack confidence;
  • Attempt or threaten suicide;
  • Cry themselves to sleep, have nightmares;
  • Have their possessions go missing;
  • Refuse to say what is wrong (too frightened of the bully);
  • Have unexplained bruises, scratches, cuts;
  • Begin to bully others;
  • Become aggressive and unreasonable.

2. Procedure

Breakaway’s Measures to Counter Bullying

All suspected or actual incidents of bullying will be taken seriously by Breakaway and Slough Children’s Services. It is not an acceptable part of growing up. Everyone has a right to live in an environment free from intimidation. They will be fully investigated and support provided to all involved.

We All Agree that Bullying is Wrong and will Not be Accepted

  • Create a culture in which individuals are able to tell when they are being bullied;
  • Make available to all individuals at Breakaway (young people, staff and visitors) verbally and in writing, advice and information about countering bullying;
  • Ensuring bullying is a subject that is regularly discussed at children’s and staff meetings;
  • Any concerns about bullying behaviour should be relayed to the shift leader immediately. The Manager and head of service should also be informed;
  • Any child/young person, staff member or visitor to the unit that wants to report or make a complaint about being bullied should be given an opportunity to give a fall account of their concerns in confidence and be protected from any retribution;
  • Whenever a child/young person is involved in a bullying incident, parents and social worker will be informed as soon as possible.


Staff should record all suspected and actual incidents of bullying against or by any individual within the unit. These should be reported to the manager. If a young person is involved, their social worker/parent or carer must be informed  as soon as possible.


Breakaway staff have to undertake the following:

  • Safeguarding Levels 1 & 2 and other training that covers managing behaviour and recognising sign of abuse;
  • Diversity and Equality training.