A person being bullied can be subjected to teasing, have rumours spread about them, be pushed around causing physical harm or be made to feel uncomfortable in school or at work. It often happens in front of other people and can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.
Bullying at School
Many children and young people experience bullying at school and outside of school – but they don’t have to put up with it.
Almost 45,000 children talked to ChildLine about bullying in 2013. Although there are no official figures, NSPCC figures suggest nearly half of children and young people (46%) have been bullied at school at some point in their lives.
Find out where to get help with bullying
If you’re being bullied, you don’t have to put up with it. There are many people and organisations that can help with bullying.
Types of bullying
Bullying includes name calling, mocking, kicking, taking or messing around with people’s belongings, writing or drawing offensive graffiti, gossiping, excluding people from groups, and threatening others.
Why are people bullied?
Children and young people are bullied for all sorts of reasons. It can be because of your race, religion, appearance, sexual orientation, because you have a disability, or because of your home circumstances.
People are bullied for being black, white, fat, clever, gay, or red-haired. These are just a few examples. But sometimes you can be picked on for no reason.
Cyberbullying is increasingly common both inside and outside school. It is any form of bullying that involves the use of mobile phones or the internet.
Examples include sending offensive text messages and emails, circulating degrading images on the internet, or pretending to be someone else on social networking sites such as Facebook.
Find out more about cyberbullying and how to deal with it.
The effects of bullying
Bullying makes the lives of its victims miserable. It undermines their confidence and destroys their sense of security. It can also affect children and young people’s attendance and progress at school.
Bullying can cause sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, fear, anxiety, and poor concentration. It can lead to self-harm, depression, suicidal thoughts and, in some cases, suicide.
And there’s evidence that, for some people, being bullied regularly as a child can also be linked to emotional problems as an adult.
Knowing or suspecting that your child is being bullied can be very upsetting, but there’s lots you can do to help tackle the problem.
Bullying is one of the biggest concerns for parents, according to Family Lives, a support organisation for parents.
If you find out or suspect your child is being bullied, there are things you can do to resolve the problem.
And you don’t have to find all the answers on your own. There are a number of organisations, including Family Lives, that can give you help and advice
How do you know if your child is being bullied?
Sometimes children don’t talk to their parents or carers about bullying because they don’t want to upset them, or they think it will make the problem worse.
But if you suspect your child is being bullied, there are signs to look out for, according to the NSPCC. These include:
- coming home with damaged or missing clothes, without money they should have, or with scratches and bruises
- having trouble with homework for no apparent reason
- using a different route between home and school
- feeling irritable, easily upset or particularly emotional
Read more about spotting the signs of bullying on the NSPCC website.
Signs of cyberbullying include:
- being withdrawn or upset after texting or being online
- being unwilling to talk about what they’re doing online or on their phone
- spending much more or much less time texting or online
- many new phone numbers, texts or email addresses show up on their phone, laptop or tablet
How to help your child if they are being bullied
If a child tells you they’re being bullied, the first thing to do is listen. The NSPCC advises parents and carers to let children tell their story in their own words, and not to dismiss their experience as “just a part of growing up”.
The NSPCC advises that you suggest your child keeps a diary of bullying incidents. It will help to have concrete facts to show the school, sports coach or club leader. The next step is to talk to the school or adult in charge of your child’s club.
Talking to the school about bullying
To stop the bullying, it’s essential for you or your child, or both of you, to talk to the school.
Think about who would be the best person to approach first. Discuss this with your child as there may be a particular teacher your child feels more at ease with.
Schools should do everything they can to prevent all kinds of bullying. The law says every school must have an anti-bullying policy, and you have the right to ask how your child’s school deals with bullying.
Some schools run schemes such as peer mentoring, where certain children are trained to listen and help with problems.
Teachers can discipline children for bullying that happens off school premises. That could be on the bus, in the street or at the shops.
Cyberbullying involves using technology to bully people. It can include texting, instant messaging, and posting on social media and gaming websites.
Coping with cyberbullying can be difficult because it can happen at any time of the day.
To make matters worse, bullying messages and images can be shared so they are seen by more people for longer than other kinds of bullying. And this kind of sharing can quickly get out of control.
What is cyberbullying?
Examples of cyberbullying include:
- emailing or texting threatening or nasty messages to people
- posting an embarrassing or humiliating video of someone on a video-hosting site such as YouTube
- harassing someone by repeatedly sending texts or instant messages through an app or in a chat room
- setting up profiles on social networking sites, such as Facebook, to make fun of someone
- “happy slapping” – when people use their mobiles to film and share videos of physical attacks
- posting or forwarding someone else’s personal or private information or images without their permission – known as “sexting” when the content is sexually explicit
- sending viruses that can damage another person’s computer
- making abusive comments about another user on a gaming site
Are you a cyberbully?
Even if you’re not the one who started the bullying, you become part of it when you laugh at a message that could be hurtful or threatening to someone else, or forward it on.
Don’t let yourself get dragged into cyberbullying. Think about the impact of what you say in instant messages, chat rooms and emails. Could your words be used to hurt someone else, or could they be turned against you?
In some cases, cyberbullying can be a criminal offence. For example, it could be treated as a form of harassment or threatening behaviour.
Do’s and Dont’s
- Talk to someone you trust. This could be a teacher, parent, carer or friend. Schools have a responsibility to ensure students aren’t bullied, and they can take action even if the bullying is happening outside school. You can also call ChildLine confidentially on 0800 1111.
- Report the bullying to the internet service provider (ISP) if the bullying happened online. Ask a parent or teacher for help, or look at Childnet for safety advice about mobiles and internet use.
- Report the bullying to your mobile phone provider if you’ve received bullying texts or calls on your mobile. You may even have to change your number if you’re repeatedly bullied.
- Block instant messages and emails. Ask a parent or teacher for help, or visit Chatdanger for advice on how to do this.
- Report serious bullying, such as physical or sexual threats, to the police.
- Don’t delete the upsetting emails or messages. Keep the evidence. This will help to identify the bully if the bullying is anonymous. Even people who use a false name or email can be traced.
- Don’t reply. This is what the bully wants, and it might make things worse.
How to avoid being cyberbullied
The best way to avoid being cyberbullied is to use the internet and mobile phones carefully.
- Don’t give out personal details, such as your phone number or address.
- Think carefully before posting photos or videos of you or your friends online.
- Only give your mobile number to close friends.
- Protect passwords, and never give your friends access to your accounts.
- Use the privacy settings on social media.
- Don’t forward nasty emails.
- Learn how to block instant messages or use mail filters to block emails.
- Know how to report bullying to social media sites, internet service providers or website administrators. Ask a parent or teacher for help.
Information and help with cyberbullying
Chatdanger contains safety advice on mobiles, chatrooms, email, online games and instant messaging.
Digizen focuses on responsible use of the internet. Its section on cyberbullying includes a short film called Let’s fight it together, about how a boy deals with being cyberbullied.
Anti-bullying ambassadors offers tips on how to stay safe online, including how to report abuse on social media sites and apps.
Bullying at Work
How to identify if you’re being subject to workplace bullying and how to stop it, and advice on getting support.
What is workplace bullying?
Bullying can involve arguments and rudeness, but it can also be more subtle. Excluding and ignoring people and their contribution, unacceptable criticisms and overloading people with work are other forms of bullying.
What effect does it have?
Bullying can make working life miserable. You lose all faith in yourself, you can feel ill and depressed, and find it hard to motivate yourself to work.
Bullying isn’t always caused by people’s tribal instincts, or someone picking on the weak. Sometimes a person’s strengths in the workplace can make the bully feel threatened, and that triggers their behaviour.
|Bullying At Work: How to Confront and Overcome It|
What can I do?
Find yourself an ally. Don’t be ashamed to tell people what’s going on. Bullying is serious, and you need to let people know what’s happening so that they can help you. By sharing your experiences you may discover that it’s happening to other people too.
Speak to someone about how you might deal with the problem informally. This person could be:
- an employee representative, such as a trade union official
- someone in the firm’s human resources department
- your manager or supervisor
Some employers have specially trained staff to help with bullying and harassment problems. They’re sometimes called “harassment advisers”. If the bullying is affecting your health, visit your GP.
Recognise that criticism or personal remarks are not connected to your abilities. They reflect the bully’s own weaknesses, and are meant to intimidate and control you. Stay calm, and don’t be tempted to explain your behaviour. Ask them to explain theirs.
Talk to the bully
The bullying may not be deliberate. If you can, talk to the person in question as they may not realise how their behaviour has affected you. Work out what to say beforehand. Describe what’s been happening and why you object to it. Stay calm and be polite. If you don’t want to talk to them yourself, ask someone else to do it for you.
Keep a diary
This is known as a contemporaneous record. It will be very useful if you decide to take action at a later stage. Try to talk calmly to the person who’s bullying you and tell them that you find their behaviour unacceptable. Often, bullies retreat from people who stand up to them. If necessary, have an ally with you when you do this.
Make a formal complaint
Making a formal complaint is the next step if you can’t solve the problem informally. To do this, you must follow your employer’s grievance procedure.
What about legal action?
Sometimes the problem continues even after you’ve followed your employer’s grievance procedure. If nothing is done to put things right, you can consider legal action, which may mean going to an employment tribunal. Get professional advice before taking this step. For more information about taking legal action, visit your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau.
It’s not possible to go to an employment tribunal directly over bullying. Complaints can be made under laws covering discrimination and harassment. Find out more about the law covering workplace bullying from GOV.UK
Help with bullying resources
ChildLine is a helpline and website for young people and children. You can call ChildLine confidentially at any time of the day or night to talk about any worries. Calls are free from landlines and mobiles, and they won’t appear on a phone bill. You can also chat online to an adviser or contact ChildLine by email or message board. ChildLine’s website has a useful section on how to cope with bullying.
Bullybusters operates a free anti-bullying helpline for anyone who’s been affected by bullying. It also has a website and message board, with sections specifically for kids and young people.
Bullying UK offers extensive practical advice and information about bullying for young people, and its website has a section on bullying at school.