What is bullying?

Anti-bullying advice

Bullying affects lots of young people and happens in many schools but it's the way it's dealt with which makes the difference between life being tolerable or a misery for many. 

A definition of bullying

There is no legal definition of bullying. But it is usually defined as repeated behaviour which is intended to hurt someone either emotionally or physically, and is often aimed at certain people because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation or any other aspect such as appearance or disability.

Bullying can take many forms including:

  • physical assault
  • teasing
  • making threats
  • name calling
  • cyber bullying

Bullying can happen anywhere: at school, travelling to and from school, in sporting teams, between neighbours or in the workplace.

anti bullying advice

What is cyber bullying?

Cyber bullying is bullying through a mobile phone or online (eg by email, instant messanger or on social network sites). Cyber bullying is just as serious. Read more about cyber bullying. 

How to deal with bullying at school

If you are being bullied at school, tell a friend, tell a teacher and tell your parents. It won't stop unless you do. It can be hard to do this so if you don't feel you can do it in person it might be easier to write a note to your parents explaining how you feel, or perhaps confide in someone outside the immediate family, like a grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin and ask them to help you tell your parents what's going on. 

Your form tutor needs to know what is going on so try to find a time to tell him or her when it won't be noticeable. You could stay behind on the pretext of needing help with some work. If you don't feel you can do that, then speak to the school nurse. Don't be tempted to respond to any bullying or hit back because you could get hurt or get into trouble.

Bullying includes:

  • people calling you names
  • making things up to get you into trouble
  • hitting, pinching, biting, pushing and shoving
  • taking things away from you
  • damaging your belongings
  • stealing your money
  • taking your friends away from you
  • posting insulting messages or rumours, in person on the internet or by IM (cyberbullying)
  • threats and intimidation
  • making silent or abusive phone calls
  • sending you offensive phone texts
  • bullies can also frighten you so that you don't want to go to school, so that you pretend to be ill to avoid them

Bullying and body language

Body language tells us a lot about other people. Think about the last time you walked into school. How did you feel? Confident and powerful? Or timid and worried? If you're trying not to be noticed and looking at the ground a lot while darting into school it can make you more noticeable. You look defensive and vulnerable. If you step out boldly you send out a quite different message of confidence. You may not be very confident but you'll certainly look it.

Hitting someone is an assault

Try to stay in safe areas of the school at break and lunchtime where there are plenty of other people.  If you are hurt at school, tell a teacher immediately and ask for it to be written down. Make sure you tell your parents.

Bullying is upsetting

Bullying is very upsetting and if you feel you can't cope, tell your parents and go to see your doctor. Many doctors are very sympathetic about the effects of bullying and yours may be able to write a note for the school explaining the effect that bullying is having on your health.

People bully others about perceived differences, including appearance, religion, behaviour, disabilities  or illness, family, even how well you are doing at school or how popular you are. It is always best to try and dismiss bullying remarks. If a bully sees that they can upset you then they will keep trying. Many people are the victim of bullying and it is important to remember that noone should be bullied. 

 

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers through Live Chat, email us or call our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums.  Family Lives is here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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