‘One Kind Word’ vital to counter the bullying suffered by one in five children

As three-quarters of schools in the UK - over 7 million children and young people - celebrate Anti-Bullying Week and Odd Socks Day, campaigners are asking young and old alike to focus on the importance of acts of kindness, starting with ‘One Kind Word’.

  • Millions of children and adults are taking part in Anti-Bullying Week: One Kind Word (15 to 19 Nov) and Odd Socks Day starting today  
  • 1 in five children are experiencing frequent bullying
  • Disabled children and those with SEN are significantly more likely to be bullied  
  • The Anti-Bullying Alliance calls for ‘One Kind Word’ to kick start a chain-reaction of kindness


As three-quarters of schools in the UK - over 7 million children and young people - celebrate Anti-Bullying Week and Odd Socks Day, campaigners are asking young and old alike to focus on the importance of acts of kindness, starting with ‘One Kind Word’.

The kindness message is likely to resonate with supporters who lit up last year’s Anti-Bullying Week campaign on social media when it trended at No.1 on Twitter, got 600,000 downloads on YouTube and reached 44m users of TikTok.

Kindness is an important part of children’s daily lives. A survey of 1,100 children by Kidscape, an Anti-Bullying Alliance member, working with BounceTogether - shows three-quarters of children (74%) say pupils in school are kind to them and over ninety percent (94%) say they are kind to others.

However, the findings also suggest that some children do not experience kindness in the same way, with disabled children and those with additional needs three times more likely to say that pupils in school are not kind to them (9%) compared to their non-disabled peers (3%).

Graphic showing the Anti-Bulllying Week theme: One Kind Word

On the other side of the coin, results from a different questionnaire completed by nearly 15,000 pupils, published by the Anti-Bullying Alliance to mark Anti-Bullying Week, show a significant number of children are suffering frequently from bullying.

One in five (21%) pupils in England report being bullied a lot or always, with 1 in 22 (4.6%) – the equivalent of one in every classroom – saying they are frequently hit, kicked or pushed by other children.

Other findings include:

  • 1 in 12 (8.3%) children say that other pupils frequently tease them.
  • 1 in 14 (7.3%) pupils say they are frequently called hurtful names by other children.
  • 1 in 16 (6.3%) children report being frequently picked on by other pupils because they are ‘a bit different’

The questionnaire, analysed by Goldsmith University, was completed by children between September 2020 and March 2021. It indicates that rates of bullying increased to 30% for children with special educational needs and disability and 27% for children in receipt of free school meals.

A growing body of research evidence shows that severe and frequent bullying can have a long-lasting impact on children’s mental wellbeing and development.

Martha Evans, Director of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said:

“Our questionnaire has shown that a significant proportion of children are frequently on the receiving end of bullying behaviours. It doesn’t have to be this way. If we are alert to hurtful behaviour, encourage upstanders, and role model kindness and respect - even when we don’t always agree, we can break down barriers and brighten the lives of the people around us.

“So, let’s join millions across the country having conversations about bullying and kindness and start a chain reaction of positivity starting with ‘One Kind Word’.”

Children and Families Minister, Will Quince, said:

“Bullying in any form is never acceptable, whether it be in the classroom, in the playground or online. It can have a huge impact on the lives of young people and their families. That’s why Anti-Bullying Week is so vital – enabling us to come together in a united stance against bullying.

“I’m pleased to see that over three quarters of pupils say others are kind to them, but there’s more we can do to improve this number. The introduction of relationships education will teach pupils how to treat others with respect and where to get help if they are being bullied. I want to encourage everyone to share ‘One Kind Word’ so that we continue to work together to put a stop to bullying.”

Lauren Seager-Smith, CEO of Kidscape, said:

“Our survey showed that kindness matters to children and that on the whole they have a positive experience of school life. The challenge lies in understanding why a sizeable minority continue to experience unkindness and bullying, particularly disabled children and those with additional needs, and we urgently need to create an environment where all children feel that they belong.”

Bob Wilkinson, Managing Director at BounceTogether, said:

“We’re encouraged that the overwhelming number of schools who took part in our Kindness Surveys will now be armed with a richer understanding of their community’s experience of kindness. It’s imperative that we give children and young people the opportunity to voice their experiences so we can have an informed conversation about bullying and relationships in schools. Schools have found running the survey to be a perfect way to do this. What really stood out was the wisdom shown by the young people who took part in how to address these issues. As adults, we must listen to them and include our children in providing the solution.”

Anti-Bullying Alliance patron, CBBC and CBeebies star Andy Day, will be right behind the campaign again with his band Andy and the Odd Socks. The band has released a rocking new tune, ‘One Kind Word’, to celebrate Odd Socks Day on the first day of Anti-Bullying Week. The video includes children from across the country. Last year we saw the likes of Ant and Dec, Craig David and Emma Willis in their odd socks. There’s a serious message behind the fun: let’s put on our odd socks to show we’re ALL unique and different, and let’s be kind to each other and respect each other’s individuality.

Children’s TV star Andy Day said:

“Pulling on a couple of odd socks might not seem like much, but it's an opportunity to encourage people to express themselves and celebrate their individuality in their own unique way! 

“This year we want to spread the message that one kind word can lead to another and together we can help stop bullying. So we hope to see you wearing your most colourful odd socks this Anti-Bullying Week on Monday 15th November.”

Find out more at www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/antibullyingweek and get involved using #AntiBullyingWeek #OneKindWord #OddSocksDay @ABAonline


Videos, graphics and social media assets are freely available at: https://anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week/get-involved-social-media  

About the questionnaire

The questionnaire, analysed by Goldsmith University, was completed by between 14,000 and 15,000 children (not all children answered all questions) aged 5 to 18 at schools in England taking part in an Anti-Bullying Alliance anti-bullying programme, between September 2020 and March 2021. Schools that took part in the programme completed the survey again at the end of the programme and saw marked improvements. ABA have a new programme, United Against Bullying, which is free for all schools to take part.

About Kidscape’s survey

Kidscape worked in partnership with BounceTogether to provide free surveys in England and Wales for pupils, staff and parents/carers to help them measure experiences of kindness. The pupil survey data in this release is based on 1200 responses from 25 schools. For more details on the survey click here.

About Anti-Bullying Week

Anti-Bullying Week takes place from the 15-19 November 2021. The theme is ‘One Kind Word’.

Anti-Bullying Week is organised by:

Each organisation will be developing their own resources and activity to support the week.

About Anti-Bullying Week in England and Wales

Anti-Bullying Week is coordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance in England and Wales. This year it is taking place from 15 to 19 November 2021 and has the theme One Kind Word.

The week will begin with Odd Socks Day which is supported by CBBC and CBeebies star Andy Day and his band Andy and the Odd Socks.

Kindness is more important today than it has ever been. The isolation of the last year has underlined how little acts of consideration can break down barriers and brighten the lives of the people around us. This is one of the reasons, that ‘One Kind Word’ has been chosen as the theme of Anti-Bullying Week.

Following the success of the campaign in 2020 – when a jaw-dropping 80% of schools marked the week reaching over 7.5 million children and young people - the Anti-Bullying Alliance asked over 400 young people, teachers, and parents, what they wanted from this year’s Anti-Bullying Week. Again and again, the young and not-so-young told us they wanted anti-bullying work to be about hope and the positive and kind things we can do to halt hurtful behaviour in its tracks.

Find out more at: www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk and get involved on social media using #AntiBullyingWeek #OneKindWord #OddSocksDay @ABAonline

About the Anti-Bullying Alliance

Anti-Bullying Week is coordinated in England and Wales by the Anti-Bullying Alliance. We are a unique coalition of organisations and individuals, working together to achieve our vision to: stop bullying and create safer environments in which children and young people can live, grow, play and learn. We are part of the National Children’s Bureau. We are united against bullying.

For more information visit: www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk