As a child and teenager I was bullied. There was physical and mental bullying. I never really fit in anywhere and as a result I was bullied mercilessly. And it affects you for the rest of your life in ways you don’t even realize.
But worse than that. I bullied. I can’t tell you why, there is no excuse but I can tell you this nothing I say will ever make it better or take it back.
But I can apologize. And I am sorry.
I bullied you in year seven. I don’t even remember doing it let alone why. But I am sorry. Who would have thought that when I returned to Old Buckenham High in year ten that we would end up best friends?
I was rotten to when I was in yr ten, you a year above me. I teased your clothing, your likes, your looks. It’s not right and can’t be dismissed but I did it because I liked you. I guess you figured it out when I started my first year of college and we kind of ‘dated’.
Nothing can ever make bullying an excusable thing but I’m standing up and saying sorry.
Don’t accept bullying. Do something about it. Today.
Bullying can happen to anyone at any age. Being bullied at school, home or online might involve someone pushing you, hitting you, teasing you, talking about you or calling you names. Nobody has the right to hurt you or make you feel bad. If you are being bullied you don’t have to deal with it alone – talking to someone about it can often really help.
If you or a friend are being bullied, it can sometimes feel like nothing can make it stop, especially if it has been happening for a long time.
Bullying can leave you feeling anxious, depressed, lonely, worthless and scared – but it doesn’t have to be like this.
What is bullying?
Bullying can mean many different things and young people have described bullying as:
- being called names
- being put down or humiliated
- being teased
- being pushed or pulled about
- having money and other possessions taken or messed about with
- having rumours spread about you
- being ignored and left out
- being hit, kicked or physically hurt
- being threatened or intimidated
These things can happen at school or at home, but they can also happen online or on social networks.
Bullying can also be part of other forms of abuse, including neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
You are not alone
Sadly, lots of young people have experienced bullying from name-calling on social networks to physical threats.
Bullying someone because they are a different sexual orientation from you. Saying that someone is ‘gay’ or using words like ‘gay’ as an insult.
Treating people differently because of their race, the colour of their skin, where they are from or what they believe in and using offensive words that describe race to bully people.
Treating people differently based on whether they are female or male. For example, thinking that boys are better than girls.
Treating someone differently if they are disabled, or using offensive language to describe people who are disabled and using this to bully people.
Bullying someone because they look different such as if they have ginger hair or wear glasses.
Deciding that someone is from a particular social class – usually if they are seen as being rich or poor – and bullying them because of this. For example, calling somebody a, ‘chav’ or, ‘snob’.
People can be bullied for all sorts of reasons or for no particular reason at all. Sometimes people who bully others pick up on a small thing that makes someone stand out and they use it to hurt them. This might be the way someone looks, the things they like doing or even what kinds of clothes they wear.
Everyone is different, and it’s these differences that make people who they are. If you are being bullied in person or online, then you might think that it’s your fault – but it isn’t.
Types of Bullying
There are three types of bullying:
- Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
- Inappropriate sexual comments
- Threatening to cause harm
- Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
- Leaving someone out on purpose
- Telling other children not to be friends with someone
- Spreading rumors about someone
- Embarrassing someone in public
- Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
- Taking or breaking someone’s things
- Making mean or rude hand gestures
Where and When Bullying Happens
Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.
Be there for your friend
Sometimes your friend might not want to talk, but being there to listen whenever they are ready is important.
Help take their mind off it
Hanging out, going for a walk, watching a film or playing games together are good ways to take someone’s mind off their problems for a little while.
Support your friend to help them speak out about bullying
It can be very daunting to open up to an adult about your problems. Going with a friend if they’re feeling nervous is a great way to support them.
Help your friend stay safe at school
Staying in a group is a good way to help stop bullying during break times.
Walk home with your friend or sit with them on the bus
It can be hard to get away from people involved in bullying when you are on the way to or from school. Walking with a friend and sitting in a group on the bus could help stop the bullying.
Speak to ChildLine about what is happening
You can talk to ChildLine, whatever your worry – even if you are worried about something that’s happening to someone else.
Tell your friend about ChildLine
Make sure your friend knows that they can contact ChildLine any time, day or night, online or by phone. It’s free and confidential, meaning nobody else needs to know.
Find out about your school’s anti-bullying policy
It’s good to know what your school has promised to do in the event of bullying. There might be something in the policy that could help your friend.
Anyone could end up getting involved with bullying. Some people may not realise that what they are doing is bullying and might think they are just teasing, but some people deliberately set out to bully someone and make them unhappy.
You might be bullied by other young people who live near you, or who do activities outside of school with you, like sports or music. You can be bullied by people you have never met through your mobile phone or on the internet.
Members of your family can also bully you. If an adult bullies a child or young person, this is called physical or emotional abuse and it’s really important tell someone about it.
Your teachers have a duty to look after you. If they or any other adult working in the school is being mean to you, this is not fair. You have a right not to be made to feel stupid, be called names or punished unfairly. Talk to another teacher who you trust, perhaps your form teacher, and tell them what is happening.
Nobody has the right to stop you from going to school. Your school has a duty to protect you from bullying and keep you safe. Try taking a quiet moment to talk to someone you trust and tell them about the problem. That could be a teacher or someone else you feel comfortable talking to. They can get in touch with your school and work out a way to help you.
If the bullying is happening on your way to or from school there are things you can do to stop this:
• Plan a different route to school so you don’t have to go through the areas where the bullying happens
• Keep to well-lit and busy areas so that you don’t have to walk alone at any time
• Take a safety alarm with you – they are not expensive and create a loud noise which can attract help and put bullies off
• Walk with friends, or older brothers and sisters if possible
• If you are being bullied on a bus, sit downstairs rather than on the top deck and tell the driver about what is happening. If it’s a school bus then you can talk to your teacher – they are responsible for you while on a school bus and can make the bullying stop
• Keep a diary of what is happening with dates and times.
If the people bullying you go to the same school as you, it is a good idea to let the school know what is happening, no matter where or when it is they are bullying you. They may not be able to take action about incidents that happen in the evenings or at weekends, but they can make sure it doesn’t happen in school. If the bullies are being violent towards you, it could be helpful to talk to your parents or carers about involving the police who can help you.
If you are being bullied at home by one of your siblings, you should try to talk to your parents or carers about what is happening. They need to know what is going on so they can help make it stop. If you don’t feel like you can talk to a parent or carer, you can always talk to ChildLine.
If you are being bullied by your parents you could try talking to someone who is close to you. Perhaps you have another family member such as aunt or uncle that you could speak to. If you don’t have another family member to talk to, you could speak to your teacher and tell them what is happening to you.
If you are receiving nasty or threatening texts or calls on your mobile, tell an adult like a parent or teacher. They can help you put a stop to this. If it doesn’t stop you need to tell the police.
All UK mobile companies are used to dealing with nuisance calls and will have people you can call who can help you deal with this. In the meantime:
• Don’t reply to any nasty messages you receive.
• Keep the messages that you have been sent so you can show someone.
• Don’t answer any calls that are from a withheld number, or from a number
you don’t know.
• Change your mobile number and only give your new number out to close friends.
• If the problem is serious, tell the police or you can call ChildLine on 0800 1111 and we can help.
Mobile phone operators can’t stop a particular number from contacting another phone, but you can do this on some types of phone. Check your phone’s user guide to see if yours can. The mobile phone operator can only take action on an account that is being used to bully you (such as blocking it) if the police are involved.
‘Sexting’ is when someone sends or is sent sexually explicit pictures or videos on their mobile phone. You might be encouraged to take pictures of yourself naked or film yourself doing things that you may not be happy about and send them to people. There may also be pressure on you to look at explicit messages that people have been sent, and to encourage other people to get involved.
It’s important to only do what you feel comfortable with. Remember that once you have sent a picture or video to someone else or put it up online, you have no control about where it will go and who will see it. Before sending anything, take a moment to think how you would feel if it ended up on YouTube or on Facebook. If you wouldn’t want anyone else to see it, don’t send it.
If you are worried about anything to do with sexting or being bullied anywhere, you can talk to ChildLine on 0800 1111.
Kids Involved in Bullying
The roles kids play in bullying are not limited to those who bully others and those who are bullied. Some researchers talk about the “circle of bullying” to define both those directly involved in bullying and those who actively or passively assist the behavior or defend against it. Direct roles include:
- Kids who Bully: These children engage in bullying behavior towards their peers. There are many risk factors that may contribute to the child’s involvement in the behavior. Often, these students require support to change their behavior and address any other challenges that may be influencing their behavior.
- Kids who are Bullied: These children are the targets of bullying behavior. Some factors put children at more risk of being bullied, but not all children with these characteristics will be bullied. Sometimes, these children may need help learning how to respond to bullying.
Even if a child is not directly involved in bullying, they may be contributing to the behavior. Witnessing the behavior may also affect the child, so it is important for them to learn what they should do when they see bullying happen. Roles kids play when they witness bullying include:
- Kids who Assist: These children may not start the bullying or lead in the bullying behavior, but serve as an “assistant” to children who are bullying. These children may encourage the bullying behavior and occasionally join in.
- Kids who Reinforce: These children are not directly involved in the bullying behavior but they give the bullying an audience. They will often laugh or provide support for the children who are engaging in bullying. This may encourage the bullying to continue.
- Outsiders: These children remain separate from the bullying situation. They neither reinforce the bullying behavior nor defend the child being bullied. Some may watch what is going on but do not provide feedback about the situation to show they are on anyone’s side. Even so, providing an audience may encourage the bullying behavior.
- These kids often want to help, but don’t know how. Learn how to be “more than a bystander”
- Kids who Defend: These children actively comfort the child being bullied and may come to the child’s defense when bullying occurs.
Most kids play more than one role in bullying over time. In some cases, they may be directly involved in bullying as the one bullying others or being bullied and in others they may witness bullying and play an assisting or defending role. Every situation is different. Some kids are both bullied and bully others. It is important to note the multiple roles kids play, because:
- Those who are both bullied and bully others may be at more risk for negative outcomes such as depression or suicidal ideation.
- It highlights the need to engage all kids in prevention efforts, not just those who are known to be directly involved
Admit to yourself that you are involved in bullying
The first step is admitting that what you are doing is hurting another person. When you know that, you can figure out how to stop.
Say sorry to the people you are bullying
It takes a great deal of courage to admit what you are doing is wrong, and apologise sincerely.
Think about what is making you bully someone
Is there something happening in your life which is making you upset, frustrated or angry?
Stop yourself from sending an abusive message
Sending a message, writing a post, a tweet, an email or a text which is designed to hurt someone else is bullying. Even if you’ve written the message out, you can delete it.
Stop yourself from sharing or commenting on an abusive post or message
Even a comment like LOL or a smiley face on an abusive post can make the other person feel much worse, like they’re being ganged up on.
Find a new way to gain people’s respect
Find a way to gain people’s genuine respect. This could be as simple as deciding to answer more questions in lessons. You could practise your favourite sport and become fitter or work on a talent, like singing, dance or drawing.
Speak to ChildLine
You might worry that nobody will help you if you admit to bullying. We won’t judge you or put you down – ChildLine are here to listen to you, no matter what your worry is.
There are many other types of aggressive behavior that don’t fit the definition of bullying. This does not mean that they are any less serious or require less attention than bullying. Rather, these behaviors require different prevention and response strategies.
It is not bullying when two kids with no perceived power imbalance fight, have an argument, or disagree. Conflict resolution or peer mediation may be appropriate for these situations.
Teen dating violence is intimate partner violence that occurs between two young people who are, or once were, in a relationship.
Hazing is the use of embarrassing and often dangerous or illegal activities by a group to initiate new members.
There are specialized approaches to addressing violence and aggression within or between gangs
Although bullying and harassment sometimes overlap, not all bullying is harassment and not all harassment is bullying. Under federal civil rights laws, harassment is unwelcome conduct based on a protected class (race, national origin, color, sex, age, disability, religion) that is severe, pervasive, or persistent and creates a hostile environment.
The term bullying is typically used to refer to behavior that occurs between school-aged kids. However, adults can be repeatedly aggressive and use power over each other, too. Adults in the workplace have a number of different laws that apply to them that do not apply to kids.
Young children may be aggressive and act out when they are angry or don’t get what they want, but this is not bullying.
Behaviors that are traditionally considered bullying among school-aged youth require special attention and different strategies in young adults and college students.