Anti-bullying and harassment policy

We strongly believe that no form of bullying or harassment is ever justified.

Approved: 15 December 2021
Version: 2
Content owner: Safe practice

Girlguiding strongly believes that no form of bullying or harassment is ever justified.

This policy sets out Girlguiding’s zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment. It applies to all Girlguiding members, volunteers and staff.

It explains what we mean by bullying and harassment, how we expect our members, volunteers and staff to act and behave, and how we’ll manage breaches of this policy.

For details of how to report bullying and harassment read our Anti-bullying and harassment procedures.

What is bullying?

Bullying is deliberate behaviour that causes physical or emotional harm to another person or people. It happens repeatedly, even when asked to stop. It’s often based on an imbalance of power, or perceived imbalance of power, between the bully and the bullied. And it can be ongoing and subtle.

Bullying can have a long-lasting effect on the bullied person’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

What is harassment?

Harassment is unwanted behaviour which someone finds offensive, makes them feel intimidated or humiliated, or creates a hostile or degrading environment.

Any harassment directed at someone because of a protected characteristic as explained in the Equality Act 2010, is considered unlawful discrimination. This includes sexual harassment. Not only is this against the law, it goes against our commitment to valuing and celebrating differences. It’s both a breach of this policy and our Equality and diversity policy.

You can find more information on how to recognise bullying and harassment, as well as relational conflict in our Anti-bullying and harassment procedure.

Policy statement

This policy applies to all Girlguiding and British Girlguiding Overseas settings and activities such as unit meetings, events and workplaces.

It applies to all Girlguiding communications and behaviours, online and offline.

We expect all Girlguiding volunteers, members and staff (including employees, officers, consultants, contractors, interns, casual workers and agency workers) to:

  • Treat everyone with dignity and respect, following our Equality and diversity policy, so Girlguiding is a place where everyone is welcome and free to be themselves
  • Promote positive, inclusive behaviour by setting a good example and challenging those who don’t
  • Follow effective safeguarding behaviours
  • Be aware of behaviour that suggests possible bullying or harassment
  • Report possible bullying and harassment to our Safe Practice department as soon as you can. If you’re a member of staff, you should report it to your manager or Human Resources. See our Anti-bullying and harassment procedures for more information
  • Respond to incidents of bullying, harassment or relational conflict between young members locally. Make use of local commissioners and report to our Safe Practice department as appropriate
  • Deal with incidents in a timely and transparent way

Girlguiding has a duty of care to its volunteers. If any volunteer experiences bullying, harassment or other inappropriate behaviour from the parent or carer of a young member, this could lead to the young member having their membership withdrawn. This is explained in our Young members policy.

Managing breaches of this policy

We manage breaches of this policy by volunteers in line with our Managing concerns about adult volunteers policy and where appropriate, our Safeguarding policy.

If members of Girlguiding staff breach this policy, we’ll follow our Staff disciplinary procedure which you can find on the staff intranet.

Whistleblowing as a volunteer or member of staff

We encourage our volunteers and staff to report concerns about possible bullying and harassment. But we know that you may find this difficult or uncomfortable. In that case, we encourage you to make a report by following our Whistleblowing policy and procedures.

You can find more information about how to apply this policy in our Anti-bullying and harassment procedures.

ACAS – free human resources support and legal help for UK-based employees.

Anti-Bullying Alliance – a coalition of organisations and individuals united against bullying.

BulliesOut – a charity providing education, training and support around bullying. Plus a free mentoring service over email for anyone experiencing bullying.

Childline – a free, confidential helpline for children and young people. Offering advice and support 24 hours a day. There’s a whole section on their website about bullying issues.

Family Lives/Bullying UK – a charity providing advice and support to anyone affected by bullying.

Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum – a charity aiming to put an end to bullying

NSPCC – the UK's leading children’s charity, providing information on child abuse

Refuge – a charity supporting women and children who have experienced violence and abuse

RespectMe – Scotland’s anti-bullying service

Samaritans – a charity working to make sure there’s always someone there for people in need

Switchboard – a confidential listening service for the LGBT+ community

Victim Support – an independent charity for people affected by crime and traumatic events in England and Wales

YoungMinds – the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health

Further reading

Respect for All – the Scottish government’s national approach to counter bullying

Work and mental health (PDF) – a resource published by the charity Mind

Advice from Mind on workplace bullying