Fife Council Education and Children’s Services Directorate is committed to the personal and social wellbeing of all children and young people growing up in Fife. Through our schools and services we aim to provide community, social and learning environments free from any threat or fear, as a matter of right and as a prerequisite to effective learning and development.

In this context the Directorate, through all staff who work within it, is unequivocally opposed to bullying. We fully recognise the damage which bullying can do to young people’s lives – both those who bully and those who are bullied – in the short and long term. We are therefore committed to reducing and preventing bullying across all our services and establishments, and providing appropriate support when bullying does occur. This policy sets clear expectations regarding how these goals will be achieved.

In addressing the issue of bullying we recognise that children and young people will naturally fall in and out of friendships in the course of growing up. Such difficulties, disagreements or conflicts might be relatively minor and short-lived, but at other times may lead to serious conflict requiring direct intervention to ensure resolution. At whatever level such conflict occurs it is important to distinguish it from bullying, and to ensure that children and their parents and carers understand this distinction. It should also be recognised of course that unresolved conflict might, in time, lead to bullying.

We believe it is important to make a distinction between conflict and bullying as describing all relationship difficulties as ‘bullying’ is likely to devalue the term and obscure the very real risks which we know are associated with children and young people being bullied. It can also create confusion around the nature of response or intervention which is required to get best outcomes for children. Bullying is a mixture of behaviours and impacts, and adult intervention should be guided by the impact on a child or young person.