Bullying is cruel and unecessary. If you are a victim, you need help to beat the bullies. If you are a bystander, step in to stop it. If you are the bully, break the habit. Now. Before it's too late for all of you.

What is bullying?

There's a big difference between a bit of friendly teasing and not finding it funny, and being the victim of physical violence, having your feelings hurt and your confidence destroyed on a regular basis, and the vicious hate campaigns which can drive victims to self harm and even suicide.

Taking a joke, learning to keep things in perspective and take the hint if you are not making yourself likeable or even trying to fit in, is one thing. Being bullied is entirely another and you don't have to put up with it.

Peer pressure is when the people around you make you feel you should be like them and either you or they make you feel an outsider and uncomfortable if you don't conform. This can easily turn to bullying if there are consequences to you not being the same. It can also make other people join in the bullying or just stand by and let it happen because they don't want to get involved or be on the receiving end. They don't want to stand out from the crowd.

Discrimination is when people don't give you a fair chance because of who or what you are and it isn't much different to bullying when it means you are left out or disadvantaged because of it. It's also something the law deals with.

If it happens from an adult then it already went past being bullying and turned into abuse and if it is happening at home, it might be domestic abuse.

But whatever name we put on it, it means the same. Someone is picking on you and making you suffer, and it's just not on.

Are you being bullied?

BullyingBullying can happen at school, in your free time or in your job. It comes in all sorts of forms:

  • Teasing, name calling or being made to feel left out
  • Nasty texts, emails or cruel comments on Facebook
  • Being hit, kicked or hurt in some way
  • Theft or damage to your possessions.  

What does being bullied feel like?

If you think you are being bullied you may be feeling worried, lonely or scared.

You may not be sure if it’s going to blow over in a few days or if it’s a more serious problem. These three questions can help you size up the situation:

  • How long has the bullying behaviour been going on?
  • Is it being repeated and becoming more frequent?
  • Is it getting worse? Perhaps more people are becoming involved. Or maybe it’s moved on from nasty comments to someone hurting you physically.

Remember, if you are being bullied it’s not your fault. It’s not on and you don’t have to put up with it. Often, the problem won’t go away on its own – but there are lots of ways of tackling it and you don’t have to do it alone.

Last year, more than 837,000 children and young people called Childline about bullying, making it the most common problem their counsellors helped young people with.

How to beat bullies

Here are some ideas about how you can deal with bullying. Don;t ignore bullying - it won't go away on its own and it may get worse.

  • Tell someone you trust - maybe a teacher, parent or friend
  • Remember - it's not your fault. No one deserves to be bullied
  • Keep a record and save any nasty texts or e-mails that you have been sent
  • Try to stay away from the bullies
  • Ask your mates to look out for you
  • Don't retaliate - you could get hurt or get into trouble
  • Check your school's anti-bullying policy. This will tell you what your school should be doing about bullying
  • Try to act more confident - even if you don't feel it
  • Call Childline or another organisation

Resolving conflict

The video from NHS Choices features lots of useful tips from teenagers on resolving conflict.

Need more advice and support?

There are some really helpful organisations out there who can offer you advice and support on bullying.

Be more than a bystander

If you didn't start it but you joined in, or just let it happen and kept your head down because you are afraid of the bullies turning on you, you are partly to blame too. What would you want someone else to do if you were the victim? Get some ideas on how not to be a bystander from American website http://www.stopbullying.gov/.

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The page was last updated on 02 July 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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