Bullying happens when you or others around you behave in an unwanted aggressive way to others

young boy bullied

Bullying can happen anywhere: at school, in the community, online. Bullying can be physical but lots of bullying isn’t. Some bullying takes place in emotional ways – unwanted teasing, putting people down and intimidating attitudes are also bullying.

Other types of bullying may include:

  • Exclusion: Deliberately leaving someone out – this can lead to isolation and feelings of loneliness, especially when the person is part of a community such as school or work.
  • Stalking: These are repeated actions that make others feel harassed or threatened. This might be following people, contacting them repeatedly or damaging their property.

People who bully others usually have their own story – sometimes they are unhappy themselves but trying their best not to show it, sometimes they are trying to fit in. Bullying behaviour, whether it is a one-off or happens lots, is very distressing for the person being bullied and has a drastic effect on their well-being. 

How to deal with bullies

  • Stay cool: Stay calm and confident in the moment that the bullying happens if you can – fighting and reacting in big ways can make bullying worse.
  • Rehearse: Sometimes our brains don’t work well when we are upset, so it is a good idea to practice what you might say next time the bullying happens.
  • Reach out: Talk to someone who may be able to influence things or make things better, such as a parent, teacher or manager. This can be hard to do as you may think it will make things worse, but we know this can make things better and help the bullying stop.
  • Interrupt: If you see someone else being bullied, and you feel safe interrupting it, you can interrupt by asking the bully to stop or by offering the person being bullied support or comfort, even if you don't know them. Think about what help you might like in that situation.
  • Report: If you think that someone else is being bullied, it is right to report it to someone in a position of trust or authority – you should not get in trouble for this, you will probably be praised. If you see someone being bullied online, you can also report this to the online site or app. Most sites now have a report button which is something you can do and this will send the bullying comments to the site to be investigated.
  • Resist: If you are bullying someone or are part of a group where bullying happens, you can change your behaviour by resisting bullying others, thinking about the consequences of bullying and thinking about other person’s feelings. It is a good idea to apologise to people if you have played a part in bullying them in the past. This can help you to change and feel better, and might help them to move on.
  • Commit: Lots of people pretend that bullying doesn’t happen when it does. We know this just makes it worse and ‘okays’ bullying. Bullying is not okay, if you know that bullying is happening somewhere and you are in a position of influence, commit to changing the tolerance of bullying to zero.

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Top apps

  • ReThink: a student-led app that detects and stops online hate before the damage is done
  • Take a stand together: a game for younger children which gives tips and advice about bullying

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