Skip to content

Bullying and harassment


Everyone is entitled to participate in, and enjoy, parkrun, in an environment where they feel safe and secure. Bullying is the one fear which children and young people raise more than any other when asked for their views about safety.

What do I do if I witness bullying, or I am told it has taken/is taking place at an event?

  • Always take it seriously, regardless of who is reporting it and how improbable it sounds
  • Listen without judgement to everything you are being told
  • Reassure that parkrun will take it seriously and that no action will be taken without first consulting with all parties
  • Never promise to keep something secret, but do reassure that only those who need to know will be involved
  • Report it, either via the incident reporting mechanism or directly to the parkrun Safeguarding Team, via at the earliest opportunity
  • Do not impose any sanctions yourself without first contacting parkrun HQ


Harassment is generally described as ‘unwanted conduct which affects the dignity of women or men; it encompasses unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal behaviour which denigrates or ridicules or is intimidatory’. The essential characteristic of harassment is that the action is unwanted by the recipient.

Harassment can take many forms and may be directed in particular against women and ethnic minorities or towards people because of their age, disability, gender/gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation. It may involve action, behaviour, comment or physical contact which is found objectionable or which causes offence; it can result in the recipient feeling threatened, humiliated or patronised and it can create an intimidating environment.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can be defined as an uninvited, unreciprocated and unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature which is offensive to the person involved and causes that person to feel threatened, humiliated or embarrassed.

Sexual harassment may be experienced by anyone. Examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Requests for sexual favours, including implied or overt promises of preferential treatment or threats
  • Offensive gestures or comments
  • Sexually-orientated jibes, innuendo or jokes
  • Unwanted physical contact

Racial or sectarian harassment

Racial or sectarian harassment may take the form of actual or threatened physical abuse or it may involve offensive jokes, verbal abuse, language, graffiti or literature of a racist or sectarian nature, or offensive remarks about a person's skin colour, physical characteristics or religion. It may also include repeated exclusion of a person of an ethnic or religious minority from conversations, patronising remarks, or unfair allocation of work.

Responsibilities of Run Directors and Event Directors

Run Directors and Event Directors have an obligation to take immediate action if harassment or bullying has been identified, whether or not a complaint has been made. Allegations of harassment or bullying, received either informally or formally, must be dealt with promptly and sensitively.

Any allegations of harassment or bullying that a Run Director or Event Director receives must be reported immediately to the parkrun Safeguarding Team via

Procedure for dealing with bullying or harassment

Anyone who feels that they are being subjected to bullying or harassment may attempt to resolve the matter informally in the first instance. In some cases, it may be possible and sufficient for them to explain clearly to the person(s) engaged in the unwanted activities that the behaviour is unwelcome, that it offends or makes them uncomfortable.

Anyone who feels that they are being bullied or harassed should keep a record of any incidents, detailing when, where, what occurred, and witnesses (if any).

In some cases, victims of bullying or harassment may not be sufficiently confident to tell the harasser that their behaviour is unacceptable. parkrun emphasises therefore that you are not required to approach the harasser in an attempt to resolve the problem informally, and are entitled to report the matter to the event team or the parkrun HQ Safeguarding Lead immediately if they wish to do so.

The Event Director will escalate the matter to parkrun HQ. The appropriate member of staff will then discuss the matter with the complainant and agree on a course of action. The alleged harasser will also have the right to state their version of events.

If it is agreed that the bullying or harassment has reached a criminal level, the appropriate staff member from parkrun HQ will recommend reporting it to the law enforcement agency and will support an individual in doing so if appropriate.