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13 – 17 November is Anti-Bullying Week – a call to focus on uniting together against bullying and consider what we can do to make our environment safer from bullying. What can you do if you’re being bullied or if you’re worried about someone who is?
Bullying isn’t something that happens to a certain type of person or at a certain age. Bullying can happen to anyone at any time. It can be about anything or happen within any setting – whether at school, online, in the workplace or within the home. From calls to our helpline service PAPYRUS HOPELineUK, we know that many young people struggle with bullying. It can cause them to feel isolated, worthless, and experience thoughts of suicide.
What is bullying?
Sometimes we think of bullying as being physically violent towards another person, but bullying can take many forms – it can be physical, verbal, social or psychological. Bullying is repeated aggressive behaviour by a person or a group that is directed at another person or group, and is intended to cause harm, distress or fear. Bullying could include making threats to someone, spreading rumours about them, attacking someone physically or verbally, or deliberately excluding someone from a group. Bullying doesn’t just affect the person who is being bullied – it also has an impact on those who are witness to the bullying, as well as on the bully themselves.
Whatever form bullying takes, being bullied can have a huge impact on a young person’s life. It can lead to feelings of being isolated and worthless, can impact on someone’s self-esteem and mental health, and it can contribute to or worsen thoughts of suicide. Sometimes someone may try to justify their behaviour by finding something different about the person they are bullying – this might include what they look like, how they express themselves or what they do. But this does NOT mean that the person being bullied is to blame. There is NEVER any justification for bullying.
Three key things to do if you’re being bullied:
1) Don’t keep it to yourself. You might feel that telling someone will make things worse, or make you look stupid or weak. This is NOT the case and it’s important to tell someone as soon as you can. Think about who you know and trust – it could be a friend, teacher, family member, or colleague. They won’t be able to promise that they can keep the bullying a secret, but they will be able to help.
2) Remember the bullying is NOT your fault. No-one deserves to be bullied, whatever anyone might say – you have the right to feel safe and respected at your school, in your workplace, amongst your friends, and at home.
3) Look after your wellbeing. It can be difficult to cope when you’re being bullied. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself, or do something that you enjoy – whether it’s doing some exercise, reading a book, being creative or listening to music. Think about switching off social media and spend more time with people you trust.
If you find that bullying is leading to thoughts or feelings of suicide, or you have concerns that a young person close to you is having thoughts of suicide, contact PAPYRUS HOPELineUK by ‘phone, text or email and talk to our suicide prevention advisors in confidence. Our advisors can provide short-term advice and support around staying safe from suicide, help you to work on a plan to keep safe for now, and look at ways to manage and cope with suicidal thoughts.
Let’s also at this time remind ourselves to show respect to others despite any differences we may feel that we have and make the environments we learn, work or live in safer for everyone. If you do make a mistake, it is okay to say sorry.
In addition to our HOPELineUK team, the following services can provide advice and support.
On the Childline website you can find out about different types of bullying and get help and support:
Bullying UK has a confidential helpline, online chat and email support service that you can contact: http://www.bullying.co.uk/
The Anti-Bullying Alliance is running the ‘All Different, All Equal’ campaign to encourage everyone to come together and celebrate difference. You can download #AllDifferentAllEqual resources, sign up as a supporter and get hold of merchandise here: https://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week
Bullying UK is launching a #WearBlueDay to support anyone affected by bullying. They’ve produced a free ebook in conjunction with Routledge Education: http://www.bullying.co.uk/anti-bullying-week/