Bullying is a big problem that affects many children and young people.
The NSPCC describes bullying as ‘behaviour that hurts someone else – such as name calling, hitting, pushing, spreading rumours, threatening or undermining someone.’
Bullying often takes place at school – or on the way to or from school – but not always. Children are also bullied at home, during sport or leisure activities and online.
Being bullied has a big impact on a young person’s confidence and emotional well-being.
Young people who are bullied may feel isolated, especially if they have few friends to stick up for them. They may think they are somehow to blame for what is happening to them, which makes them reluctant to tell anyone.
While bullying itself is not a crime, it is unpleasant and unacceptable.
Harassment and threatening behaviour – two forms of bullying – are against the law. If the bully is over the age of ten (the age of criminal responsibility) you can make a complaint to the police.
Bullying at school
If the bullying behaviour is not tackled, it can have a huge impact on a young person’s education, well-being and life chances.
Children and young people who are bullied at school are more likely to miss school and under achieve. Bullying that is allowed to continue can lead to self-harming.
If you suspect your child is being bullied at school – or by fellow pupils outside school – first talk to your child. Then discuss your concerns with the school.
Bullying UK gives advice on what questions to ask, depending on whether your child is at primary or secondary school and offers useful advice on what to do if the school does not resolve the bullying issue.
Bullying at home
Home is where a child should feel safe and secure, so being bullied at home can be doubly upsetting for a child, whether it’s an overly aggressive parent or an older sibling who is doing the bullying.
Bullying tactics may involve constantly yelling at a child to try harder on the sports field or humiliating them for accidentally spilling something. Children who are bullied come to believe this is normal behaviour and may go on to be bullies themselves.
Bullying behaviour is a form of child abuse and should be stopped.
Cyber bullying is an increasingly common form of bullying which takes place on social networks, games and mobile phones.
Cyber bullying can include poking fun at someone online, spreading rumours about them or posting nasty or threatening messages. Often, the child is included or ‘tagged’ in the comments, but not always.
The worst thing about cyber bullying is that the child has no escape from their tormentors and might not even know who they are (it’s easy to be anonymous online).
Report cyber-bullying or abuse to the relevant social media site.
Advice and support
MEIC and Childline run 24-hour helplines (confidential and anonymous) for young people up to 25.
Kidscape can help parents who are worried about bullying.
Bullying.co.uk offers comprehensive advice on bullying at school and online, while Bullies Out has good advice about trolling.
Wise Kids offer young people advice about how to avoid cyber-bullying.
Report the posting of an illegal image (or any online abuse) to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP).