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Fierté Multi-Academy Trust

Our Family of Schools

Anti-Bullying Week Part 3

Now we know the difference between meanness and bullying - it's time to look at all the participants in cases when bullying occurs and some of the forms bullying can take. 

Research undertaken in Finland by Christina Salmivalli (1996) gave us a greater understanding of the roles involved in bullying. 

It showed that the traditional view of bullying where there is a ‘victim’ and a ‘bully’ was much more complicated.

Bullying rarely takes place between a 'victim' and a 'bully' alone. It tends to be group behaviour. Others can have a significant influence on the outcomes of behaviours amongst children - intentionally or otherwise.

The following roles can shift and change, depending on the power dynamic and who is present.


Often referred to as the victim.


Often referred to as the bully. Does the majority of the bullying activity and often encourages others to get involved too.


Give power to the ringleader. They may not get directly involved in the bullying, but they can incite the ringleader. They may gather others to see what’s happening. They may laugh along with the bullying. They encourage the ringleader.


Assistants join in with the bullying, even though they didn’t start it. They provide physical and / or other assistance to the ringleader.


Defenders support and defend the target. They may do this openly by confronting the ringleader or covertly – by telling a teacher or calling into question the ringleader’s power with assistants and defenders. They may provide friendship or encouragement to the target, empowering them to say no to the bullying.


An outsider stays removed from the bullying situation -either pretending not to notice, or genuinely being unaware of what is happening. The outsider does nothing about the bullying.

Although rare, we have seen these forms of bullying in recent years at Dosthill, generally in our oldest pupils:


  • Baiting can be used in bullying both on and offline.

  • It is used to get 'a rise' out of someone. 

  • It can be used to antagonise those who might be bullying others to get them to bully.

  • Sometimes baiting is used secretively to try and get a person to explode in a rage or react negatively/loudly so that they get in trouble. 

Jokes or Banter

Banter is the playful and friendly return of teasing remarks. Pupils will often say ‘we're only joking.'

  • Just because they think (or say) something is banter or a joke, it doesn’t mean other people will.

When appropriate, we teach children it’s not banter or a joke if:

  • You would be upset if someone said that to you.
  • It’s hurtful.
  • You’re not friends.
  • Someone’s asked you to stop.
  • The target isn’t laughing.
  • It focusses on someone’s insecurities.

All offensive, threatening, violent and abusive language and behaviour is always unacceptable. This includes any negative language or behaviour in relation to / referring to a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

False Friendships

Relationships where someone pretends to be your child's friend, or is their ‘friend’ sometimes, but actually use their power to bully them.

If someone constantly puts them down, they are not a real friend, and not worthy of their time - but it can be hard for a child to break away from that relationship, through fear of being isolated.