What is bullying?

Anti-bullying advice

Bullying affects lots of people and can happen anywhere: at school, travelling to and from school, in sporting teams, in friendship or family groups or in the workplace.

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
anti bullying advice

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

If you are being bullied at school, tell a friend, tell a teacher and tell your parents. 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. 

If you feel able to, please confide in a teacher you trust. You can ask a friend to come with you so you do not feel alone. If you don't feel you can do that, then speak to the school nurse or the pastoral team. 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 or leaving you out
  • posting insulting messages or rumours, in person online
  • threats and intimidation
  • making silent or abusive phone calls
  • sending you offensive texts or messages

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 anxious 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. It can be really hard to do this and perhaps you can practice at home or with your friends first. 

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. As hard as it is, do not retaliate and hit them back as you may get into trouble too. 

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.


This article was updated on December 2019

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