What is bullying?

Estimated read: 7 minutes 

Bullying affects lots of people and can happen to anyone at any place including school, work, within families or in the community. 

Key points: 

  • Helping our children build resilience and confidence is one of the most important gifts we can give them. We all understand how life can bring you many challenges throughout and how important it is on how we manage this
  • When your child is being bullied at school, it can be very stressful and confusing on what steps to take to get the bullying to stop
  • Bullying at work can take shape or form in many different ways. If you feel as though you are experiencing bullying in the workplace, this can be a very devastating and distressing issue
anti bullying advice

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
  • social bullying
  • threatening behaviour 
  • name calling
  • cyberbullying
  • sexualised bullying 

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying can also be refered to as online bullying which is via social networking sites, gaming sites, chat rooms or anywhere online. Being bullied online can have a devastating impact on anyone experiencing it and it can be really hard to get it to stop. If you are worried about cyberbullying please read our advice and click here.

How to deal with bullying at school

When your child is being bullied at school, it can be very stressful and confusing on what steps to take to get the bullying to stop. This can have a huge impact on your child as they may be feeling very anxious, low, withdrawn or isolated because of the bullying. Please visit our section on bullying at school for lots of advice on taking time off school, complaining to your school and next steps to take if the bullying has not been resolved. Our advice section contains template letters you can use to contact the relevant departments. 

Building resilience 

Helping our children build resilience and confidence is one of the most important gifts we can give them. We all understand how life can bring you many challenges throughout and how important it is on how we manage this. Resilience is being able to manage stress, challenges, trauma or adversity that life brings and bounce back from it. When children and teens are resilient, they are going to be more confident, curious and adaptable to the world around them. Click here to read our online advice.

Bullying affects your mental health

Bullying can have a massive impact on your mental health, both now and in the future. In fact, recent research has shown that if you’re bullied as a child or teenager, you might be twice as likely to use mental health services as an adult. It doesn't matter if you're being bullied at school, at home or online, bullying can mess with your head. But you're not alone, and you deserve support. Read our article about how to get support if bullying is affecting your mental health.

How to help someone being bullied

People who are being bullied can feel really distressed and it can have a serious impact on their life and health. In very serious cases bullying could lead to self harming, or even suicidal thoughts. Often other people don't realise the effect that bullying has when it goes on day in day out. You may be wondering how you can help someone who is experiencing bullying. There are usually quite a lot of pointers that someone is being bullied and if you see or hear any of them you're in a good position to help. Below is some things you can do if you are worried that a friend is experiencing bullying at school.

  • If you are at school, let a teacher know what you suspect 
  • If you are in a workplace, maybe let your colleague know that you are there for them
  • Go with the person being bullied and back up what they say to the teacher
  • Tell the person being bullied that you'll can help them to tell their parents 
  • Tell your parents or an adult you trust 
  • Agree with your friends that you will all make it clear to the person doing the bullying that you don't like what they're doing
  • Keep a diary of what you see going on so that you can give a reliable account of what has been happening

Bullying at work 

Bullying at work can take shape or form in many different ways. If you feel as though you are experiencing bullying in the workplace, this can be a very devastating and distressing issue and bullying can affect your emotional health. You may be feeling very low and anxious at the thought of going to work and facing the individual or group that may be subjecting you to this and the bullying may also be affecting family life. Read our advice articles below for help and support. We have lots of workplace bullying resources that may help including help on writing letters of complaint and more. 

Further resources 

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at askus@familylives.org.uk or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker. 

This page was updated on September 2021

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