Advice for parents and families worried about bullying:
Nobody has the right to hurt other people by hitting them, kicking them, calling them names, sending them threatening text messages, spreading rumors about them or by doing anything else which is intended to be upsetting.
People who bully try to justify their actions by saying that it is the other person's fault for being different. They may pick on someone who is tall or small, or fat or thin, or wears glasses, or has a different accent, or another religion, or is shy or clever, or good looking, or disabled or…Any excuse will do, and if there is no real difference then they will invent one.
If this is happening to you, tell yourself that it is not your fault and that it is the people who are bullying who need to change, not you.
Are you being bullied?
If you are being bullied here are some things you should do:
- Talk to someone you trust, such as a teacher, parent, older relative or friend.
- Be persistent. If the first person you talk to doesn't help don't give up. Speak to someone else.
Ask the person you talk to not to do anything without telling you about it first. You have a right to know what is being done on your behalf and to say whether you think it is a good idea or not.
- If you can, write down everything that has been said or done to hurt you. Try to write down how you feel. When you have found someone you can trust, discuss what you have written with that person. Be careful only to write down things that have happened.
- Alert a teacher, stafff, principal, dean, or school counselor as soon as it starts
If you find it difficult to talk to an adult, ask one of your friends to come with you, or ask someone to talk to an adult on your behalf.
Most importantly, do something. Sometimes bullying stops quickly, but doing nothing means it may continue until someone is seriously upset or hurt. That could be you, or the bullies may find someone else to pick on. If their behavior is not challenged they are unlikely to stop.
Here are some things you should not do:
- Don't try to deal with the problem on your own. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.
- Don't hit the people who are bullying you. You might end up being accused of bullying yourself.
- Always tell the truth about what has happened. Don't exaggerate. If a small part of what you are saying is shown to be untrue then it throws everything else into doubt.
It can be really difficult not to join in when a group of your friends is making fun of someone - but doing the right thing is rarely easy. Even if you don't join in when you see someone being bullied you may be playing a part in the bullying. You see, part of the fun that people who bully get, comes from the reaction of bystanders. If you do nothing the bullies may think that you approve of what they are doing.
- Don't hide what is happening from the adults you trust. Keeping things secret is the bullies' biggest weapon. That is why they go to so much trouble to stop you telling.
Young people tell us that what they most want from adults is respect. In fact all of us, however old we are, want our rights to be respected and none of us wants to be abused or picked on. We just want others to be fair to us. People who try to earn respect by frightening others or by being cruel to them end up being disliked. Fear is the opposite of respect. To earn respect we must show it to others.
You can help others to respect you by:
If you do nothing it could be your turn next.
- Challenging all bullying behavior.
- Avoiding racist or homophobic language.
- Joining a "buddy" or peer support scheme.
- Raising the issue of bullying with the student council (if your school has one) or in class discussions in subjects like English, drama, religious education, or social education.
- Taking part in your school's anti-bullying activities such as designing posters or carrying out surveys.
- If you know someone who is being bullied make sure that teachers know what is going on. If the bully is an adult, talk to a teacher you trust or to your parent.
Bullying is wrong whatever the age of the person who is doing it. Adults can bully children in many different ways. If an adult is doing something to you or trying to make you do something, which you do not like, but you are not sure if this is bullying, then you must talk to someone. If this is happening at school you can talk to your parents. If this is happening at home you could talk to a trusted adult at school. Do not keep it a secret. The only way to stop bullying is to talk openly about it.