Help me out - bullying

Bullying can be one of the most upsetting things that can happen to someone, and unfortunately it’s something that a lot of people will go through.

Bullying is never OK, and if you or someone you know experiences it there is a lot of help and support available – nobody should have to face bullying alone.

You can find out about organisations which offer help and advice on our Advice Helplines page.

What forms does bullying take?

Bullying can take many different forms, and some are more obvious than others.
It can include –

  • Teasing, humiliating or shaming someone
  • Insulting someone or calling them names
  • Ignoring or excluding someone, or leaving them out
  • Making someone the butt of jokes
  • Spreading rumours about someone
  • Sharing someone’s personal information without their permission
  • Pushing, hitting, kicking or physically hurting someone
  • Taking or hiding someone’s stuff
  • Forcing someone to do something
  • Threatening someone
  • Encouraging other people to treat someone like that

It can happen in person, online or on your phone; at home, at school or anywhere else; by one person or a group of people; all the time or every now and again.

Bullying is not always physical, and not always easy to spot or pinpoint in one specific incident.

Bullying can be psychological, which is when one person tries to hurt or control another person by repeatedly manipulating or threatening them, or making them feel bad.

It can be very subtle and happen over time; sometimes a person may not even realise that they are being bullied.

What do people get bullied about?

People get bullied about lots of different things, including –

  • Being different in some way
  • The way they look 
  • The things they do or like
  • Their background or home life
  • The way they act
  • Their race or nationality (called racist or xenophobic bullying)
  • Their religion or beliefs (called religious bullying)
  • Being a boy or girl (called sexist bullying)
  • Who they fancy (called homophobic bullying if it’s someone of the same gender)
  • Having a disability
  • Being new to a group or situation
  • Having a skill or talent

Or sometimes for nothing at all!

Whatever the reason, it’s not the victim’s fault – nobody deserves to be bullied for any reason – ever!

Who gets bullied?

Bullying can happen to anyone at any time in their lives – there is no typical victim of bullying.

Being bullied doesn’t mean someone is weak or low in confidence – it just means they’re being targeted by someone. A person might appear popular, outgoing or confident; but they could still be experiencing bullying.

It’s not always easy to tell if a person is being bullied, and some people may feel like they have to hide what is happening to them (even though it’s not their fault).

Who bullies?

There’s no one type of person who is a typical bully.

You could be bullied by people your own age, older or younger, or adults; it might be somebody who treats you well some of the time, but then bullies you at other times.

How can bullying make you feel?

Bullying can make you feel lots of different things, and people react in different ways.

If you experience bullying, you might feel –

  • Upset
  • Sad and low
  • Confused
  • Worthless
  • Out of control
  • Like you’re to blame or deserve it
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Scared
  • Isolated and lonely
  • Tired

Why do people find it hard to tackle bullying?

It can be really difficult to make bullying stop.

Chavala explains why it people can find it hard to make bullying stop.

How to deal with bullying

You don’t have to deal with bullying on your own, and there are some positive steps you can take.
Every school has an anti-bullying policy – there is help available.

Tell someone

  • Never keep bullying to yourself or try to keep it a secret
  • Talking to someone you trust is the first step in things getting better – it can be a friend, parent, teacher or another trusted adult – or talk to Childline
  • Sometimes it might be possible to talk it through with the person who is bullying. If you feel you can’t do this on your own, get help to do it through your school.

Remember that things will get better

  • Say it out loud, and repeat it
  • It can be really hard to believe, but you can and will get through it
  • Focus on the fact that one day the experience will be in the past and you will be able to move on
  • Take inspiration from other people who have experienced similar situations and have now left their bullies behind

Build your confidence

  • Don’t let the bully get in your head! Never believe what a bully says about you
  • Take back control of how you feel about yourself
  • Take steps to build up your self-esteem – think about what’s good in your life; spend time with the people who really care about you; do things you enjoy; and give yourself praise when you achieve something, big or small
  • Practice confident body language - hold your head up high and walk tall 

If you can, block the bully

  • If the bullying is happening online, block and report the person. Be sure to save screenshots of any online bullying first as they can be used as evidence

Practice being assertive

  • Saying what you think and how you feel doesn’t come naturally to everyone – it takes practice
  • Write down what you want to say, keeping it clear and easy-to-understand
  • Practice saying it out loud
  • It’s OK not to agree with everyone all the time – you’re entitled to your own opinion
  • You’re allowed to say “No!” and “Stop!”. It can be scary to do, so practice with someone you trust

Don’t bully back

  • It's hard to deal with all the negative emotions caused by bullying, but being nasty back, or taking your feelings out on someone else, will only make things worse
  • There is no shame in refusing to fight back – it doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re strong enough to do the right thing

Try to stay safe

  • Trust your gut – be aware of your surroundings and avoid dangerous situations by making sure you’re not alone with bullies
  • If you can, stick to groups of people where bullies are less likely to bother you. If you don’t have a group of friends, get some help to build one ally at a time
  • If you’re being bullied, attract the attention of others – this can scare off a bully.

Express yourself in positive ways

  • Find a way to get your feelings out – it could be singing a song, writing down your thoughts, drawing or painting
  • Doing something physical, like playing a sport, dancing or even going for a walk can help you get rid of negative energy
  • Find a way to relax and take your mind off the bullying, like reading or playing a computer game

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing bullying, speak out and seek help from a trusted adult, or contact Childline.

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