Recognising the Signs
Safeguarding 1 Refresher title with Sport Ireland and Sport NI logos
Dealing with Bullying header image header image
Sport Ireland

Dealing with Bullying

There can be many different definitions of bullying but sports organisations should consider the following in particular;

  • In the Republic of Ireland the Department of Education and Skills defines bullying as unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical, conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time. Placing a once-off offensive or hurtful public message, image or statement on a social network site or other public forum where that message, image or statement can be viewed and/or repeated by other people is also regarded as bullying behaviour.
  • The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum ( defines bullying as the repeated use of power, by one or more persons, intentionally to harm, hurt or adversely affect the rights or needs of another or others.

Bullying can take many forms, but the three main types are:

  • physical (e.g. hitting, kicking, theft);
  • verbal (e.g. racist or sectarian remarks, threats, name-calling); and
  • emotional (e.g. isolating an individual from the activities and social acceptance of his peer group).

The damage inflicted by bullying can frequently be underestimated. It can cause considerable distress to children to the extent that it affects their health and development or, at the extreme, causes them significant harm (including self-harm or death through suicide).

Sports clubs and activity providers may already have general anti-bullying strategies in place, but if please see a sample anti-bullying policy below or contact your sports own governing body.

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Sample Anti-Bullying Policy

Preventing and responding to homophobic bullying should be part of these existing strategies. For more information on homophobic bullying in sport:

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Homophobic Bullying Briefing

You can also visit information on challenging bullying on the CPSU web site:

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CPSU | Anti-Bullying

For more help and advice for young people sports clubs should promote:

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Childline Republic of Ireland

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Childline UK