Becoming More Aware of Bullying in the Primary School Playground

The statement that “there’s no bullying in our school” is not realistic.

Bullying is woven into the fabric of our society and the school playground is where many children learn to become life long bullies.

Looking out for incidents of bullying in the playground is not easy and can be a real challenge for the midday team. Often the signs are not immediately obvious and can slip under the radar.

So what signs should we be looking out for?  

Possible indicators that a child is being bullied range from them being: withdrawn and isolated in playground ; tearful and clingy; continually complaining of feeling unwell; looking miserable or worried. 

Parents may tell us that their child has complained of feeling ill; is having regular nightmares; is tearful/ withdrawn at home ; has a loss of appetite; has become more aggressive towards siblings/other children; is having temper tantrums ; is uncharacteristically disobedient.

What sort of bullying should we look out for in the primary school playground?

  • Name calling – face to face or behind someone’s back
  • Teasing
  • Pushing or pulling
  • Hitting
  • Taking & throwing another child’s things around
  • Spreading rumours
  • Ignoring and leaving out
  • Forcing a child to hand over their possessions
  • Attacking a child because of their religion, colour, culture
  • Ridiculing

We need to therefore keep our eyes open and….

  • Look out for sad, upset children
  • Use our personal knowledge of children
  • Watch out for groups of children huddled together
  • Listen to each child directly involved individually
  • Use time-out as temporary way of calming children down – ask them to seek us out only when they feel calm


Another post to follow soon on what the midday team can do to become even more aware of the types, indicators and effects of bullying and how they can deal with it confidently within the context of their school’s anti-bullying policy.



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