Last reviewed on 15 March 2021
Is someone picking on you at school? Are you getting nasty messages on social media? Have you been teased or harassed in the street? Unfortunately, you’re not alone. More than a third of 11 to 16-year-olds in England say they have been bullied over the last six months.
Bullying can happen in lots of ways. You might be bullied because of your race or sexual identity. The bullying might be verbal or physical. It might happen online or in person. There might be one person bullying you or a group of people. Whatever your situation, it’s important that you know what action you can take and how to look after yourself.
As London’s digital mental wellbeing service, Good Thinking is here to help if you’re feeling sad, scared or stressed out because of bullying. We put together these tips to mark #AntiBullyingWeek 2020 and we also recommend checking out the free Clear Fear, Feeling Good Teens and Move Mood apps to help build your self-esteem and resilience and reduce feelings of anxiety and low mood.
When someone is nasty to you in person or online, they might be going through a difficult time themselves. You might even find that a friend or partner becomes a bully. It’s not personal – they might not even realise that they are hurting you. Even if you’re tempted to be mean back to them, try not to respond or retaliate.
It can be difficult to know when making a joke about someone tips over into something more serious. You might find this definition of bullying helpful: Bullying is “the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. It can happen face to face or online.” If someone is having a laugh at your expense and it’s happening often, it could be considered to be bullying.
A lot of bullying now takes place online – a bully might make nasty comments, send rude texts or voice notes, share photos or videos without your permission, make a cruel GIF about you or exclude you from a friendship group. If this is happening to you, could you take some time away from your phone and other devices? You should also be able to block the bully in your settings so that you don’t see any of their posts or messages.
At first, you might try to laugh things off or hide away but it’s really important that you tell someone if you’re being bullied and open up about how it’s making you feel. This could be a sibling, a friend, a parent, a carer, a teacher or someone else you trust. If you’d rather speak to someone you don’t know, there are lots of helplines you can call (see below). If you’re not being bullied yourself but you see someone else being bullied, stick up for them if it’s safe to do so – be an upstander not a bystander.
Make sure you keep a note of what happened, when it happened, who bullied you, who saw it happen and how it made you feel. If you’re being bullied online, take screen shots of text messages, emails and social media posts. If you decide to report the bully to your school, your social media provider or the police, this kind of evidence is very useful.
Being bullied can be really scary and might make you feel quite alone. Try to focus on what you can control in your life and what makes you feel good. You might like to spend time with mates who have your back, go out for a bike ride or listen to some music. And remember, there is lots of support available – from your family, your friends, your school and the organisations listed below. This year, more than ever, we need to be #UnitedAgainstBullying.