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What is bullying?

Bullying At School

Carly Raby (Participation Manager) gives expert video advice on: How can I stop someone from bullying me?; Why have the bullies picked on me?; How can I find out how my school will deal with bullying? and more...

What is bullying?

Bullying is when you're being treated in a way that is completely unacceptable. Whether that's name calling, somebody physically hurting you - kicking you, punching you - people being mean to you through text messages or emails: there are all sorts of different ways that people are bullied. Bullying is when you're being treated badly more than once by people who you spend a lot of time with.

What is a bully?

A bully is just a person or several people who have got together who are treating you in ways that are unacceptable. People bully for all sorts of different reasons, but essentially we're all good at different things and people who bully aren't good at treating people well and being a good friend; they need to learn ways of treating people nicely and improve their social skills. So, essentially, a bully is someone who is not very good with their social skills and who is treating someone in ways they shouldn't be.

What makes someone a victim?

Sometimes there is some thinking that it's the victim's fault. In no way is it ever the victim's fault. I don't think you can ever say that people do things to become victims. The only way that someone can become a victim of bullying is if someone is being a bully. If someone is treating them badly; using words, treating them badly, physically hurting them, then they are being a bully. Essentially the other person becomes the victim, but it's never anyone's fault that they are being treated like that, apart from the person who is treating them that way.

What should I do if I am being bullied?

If you're being bullied, the most important thing is to talk to people about it as soon as you can and make sure that the people you talk to about it are going to help to make it stop. It's not acceptable to be treated in ways that you've been treated in the past and it needs to stop right now and not continue. Bullying can make people feel really really depressed and emotional, obviously, because you're being treated in ways that will make you feel like that. And if you are feeling very down while this has been going on for awhile and you don't know what to do, it's really important to talk to someone. If you can't talk to friends or family, or if you'd rather talk to someone independent, then contact some of the help lines and talk to somebody independent or go to a chatroom and discuss how you're feeling with other young people or a professional.

I am being bullied - is it my fault?

It's important to know if you're being bullied that it is never your fault. If people weren't unkind in the first place, you would never be treated like that, whatever you did. There's nothing that you can really do to make sure that you aren't bullied. That's completely the responsibility of the person who's behaving in a way that's not okay. They need to stop bullying. If you are being bullied there's no stigma to it. You need to know that lots of children - and people, unfortunately - in this country are being bullied. Lots of adults are being bullied, too, and as soon as you talk to someone who can make them stop behaving in that way, the quicker it'll stop for you and the easier life will be for you. Talk to someone about bullying quickly who can make it stop.

Will trying to get help make the bullying worse?

When you try to get help for bullying, and when you talk to the people that you choose to talk to in order to make the bullying stop, it's important that you understand how they're going to make it stop. It's important that you understand what action are they going to take, and whether you feel that that will work for you, or whether you feel that will cause problems. If the way they decide on dealing with the bullying is something that you're not happy with, and something that you can see there'll be problems with, it's important to have that discussion with them, and for you to be part of planning how to stop the bullying in a way that suits you.

Does bullying only happen to children?

Bullying can happen to anybody, and it does happen to an awful lot of children, young people and adults in this country, unfortunately. It's important to know that bullying could happen to anybody, any time, anywhere, and it doesn't matter who you are, there's nothing that you can do about people who choose to behave badly. Those people who are choosing to behave in a way that's not acceptable are the ones that need to change their behaviour: it's not your fault.

Why have the bullies picked on me?

People who are bullying do not have good social skills. They haven't learned good ways of making friends, of treating people well, of being kind and all the things that we know it's important to do when you make relationships with other people. You're probably just the person that they happen to have picked on; the bullying is absolutely no fault of your own. Hundreds of thousands of children and adults are bullied all the time in this country. It's nothing to do with it being you, it's nothing you've done and it's nothing that you can particularly change. The behaviour that needs to be changed is the behaviour of the person bullying you.

Why do bullies often work in groups?

Bullies often work in groups because they like to overpower people in order to feel stronger and bigger, and make people feel scared and intimidated. They feel that their bullying is more effective when they're in a bigger group. Bullies feel they've got more power and they're able to dominate people even more if there's a larger number of them.

Should I try to befriend a bully?

If someone is being a bully, they haven't got very good social skills, they haven't learned to treat people well, to be kind, and to behave like a good friend. So, trying to befriend someone who's behaving like a bully is very difficult and I can't see that befriending a bully will benefit you very much. So, I think the person who is behaving like a bully needs help in behaving in different ways before they can actually be a good friend to anybody.

Will my school have a policy on bullying?

Every school has got a policy on bullying. When I talk to children here, they often don't know that there is a bullying policy within their school, and something that we've been trying to do here is to really make sure that schools are writing their bullying policy in child and young peoples' friendly language and put it in places where everyone can see what it is. There will be a bullying policy in every single school and bullying is not acceptable in any school or any place that children or young people go to. If you want to see your bullying policy, or you'd like more of an understanding about what it is your school says, then just ask your head teacher as they'll have a copy in their office.

What should I do if my friend is being bullied?

If your friend is being bullied it is really important to let people know, but obviously you need to know your friend is OK with you letting people know, so the best thing you can do is to talk to your friend about bullying, maybe visit some websites on bullying and get them to understand that they're really not on their own, that lots of young people and adults have to deal with bullying every day. Bullying needs to be stopped straight away so they don't end up feeling bad about how they're being treated, the bullying needs to stop now. So the best thing you can do as a friend is to encourage them to find out a bit more about bullying and speak to someone they trust as soon as possible to make sure the bullying stops.

What should I do if I suspect someone of bullying?

If you suspect that someone you know is being a bully, it's really important to make sure that that behaviour stops as soon as possible so they're not hurting people, and that other people you know aren't left feeling bad and isolated. So, if you suspect somebody of being a bully, tell somebody who you feel will really make a difference and will make sure it stops straight away. Speak to them as soon as you can.

I've been accused of bullying - what should I do?

If you've been accused of bullying, it can be a horrible feeling. If you know that you have been bullying other people, then it's really important to take that opportunity to step back and really look at how you've been behaving; and maybe get help with some of the social skills that you might feel you need help with in making friends, in communicating with people, or in socializing generally, to stop the bullying behaviour. Whatever help you need, it's really important that you do get that help for yourself if you're accused of bullying. If there are areas of life that you're finding very difficult at the moment and mean that you're behaving in ways that you'd really rather not be behaving, then once you get help, the things that you're finding difficult, you'll notice that your bullying behavior will probably change too. But the most important thing is really recognizing that bullying is not okay and to take control of that and get help in those areas that you need help in, to make sure you stop behaving in ways you don't want to behave.

I've been accused of bullying, but I don't think I am guilty - what should I do?

If you've been accused of bullying and you haven't done it, it's really important to sit down with the people who've accused you of bullying and to have a discussion. It's perfectly all right for you to have your say, and it's not acceptable to be accused of being a bully if you're not. So, what you need to do is sit down with the people accusing you of bullying, and somebody who can maybe act as a kind of go-between between you both and to discuss what the reasons are that have led to them thinking that you have bullied them; to look at what your behavior was like and whether you need to make changes; or whether there's another explanation for what's happened.