In January 2015, the Department for Education announced an awards scheme for schools that teach perseverance, resilience and grit. Yet this move comes in the context of a proliferation of anti-bullying policies, which seem to imply children are in need of constant protection from not only violent bullies, but from childish nastiness. Definitions of bullying are broad-brush and include ‘teasing and name-calling’, ‘spreading rumours’ and ‘exclusion at playtime or from social events and networks’. There is even official advice on protecting teachers from being bullied by their pupils. Is there a danger that ubiquitous anti-bullying initiatives make children fearful of interactions with their friends and contributes to a generation of ‘cotton wool’ kids? And why have schools, policymakers, the media and academia become so preoccupied with bullying?