Are you concerned about your child being bullied or being a bully?

What is bullying?

Bullying is described as the process of intimidating or mistreating somebody weaker, or in a more vulnerable situation.  Bullying occurs when one person or a group of persons upset another.  The behaviour is cruel, hurtful and often frightening.  While bullying is most common among school-age children, adults can also be bullied by each other.  All children and young people fall out with their friends at times, these disagreements do not usually constitute bullying.

What does bullying look like?

  • Bullying can be persistent teasing, saying untrue and unkind things about the person
  • Bullying can be unkind name-calling
  • Bullying can be intimidating a person
  • Bullying can be physical – pushing, shoving, hitting or can include more serious physical violence.
  • Bullying can be taking things from a person, either by force or intimidating them to give it up.
  • Bullying can be sending unkind texts or notes.
  • Bullying can be sending unkind emails, or using facebook, and social networking sites to spread rumours. This is called ‘cyber-bullying’.

Many children may get involved in bullying to varying degree’s at some time during their school days – they may be bullied themselves, they may bully someone else, or they may support a friend being bullied.  If the teasing is persistent and upsets the person it is aimed at, or if it tips over into harassment or physical violence, it can be very damaging and needs to be stopped.

Who gets bullied?

Any child or young person can end up being bullied – it depends on who they happen to meet or go to school with, and what is happening in their lives. But some children and young people are more likely to become victims, often people with noticeable differences, as it may be harder for them to ‘fit in’ with their peer group.

  • People who have learning difficulties, speech and language difficulties
  • People who have behaviour problems
  • People who have physical disabilities or differences
  • People who have different home situations or who’s parents appear different
  • People who are quiet or shy
  • People who have low self-esteem
  • People who have mental health problems
  • Those who are from a different, ethnic group or social group from the majority, or who speak a different language
  • Those who look or dress differently due to their different culture or religious beliefs

Who does the Bullying?

People who bully others may be doing it for a variety of reasons, but most often people may be experiencing feelings of powerlessness, unhappiness, anger, even sadness.  Bullying gives them a sense of power and control over something, resulting in trying to make them feel powerful and strong.  Bullying behaviours are usually used to ‘make up for’ inadequate feelings.

  • Bullies often have learning or behaviour problems also.
  • Bullies usually have low self-esteem.
  • Bullies sometimes enjoy the attention from friends – a sense of bravado.
  • Bullies often have experienced bullying or abuse at home or in another situations and this power culture may be normalised.
  • Bullies often feel depressed, or rejected by friends or family,
  • Bullies most often do not understand the effect of their behaviours on those they bully.

What happens if Bullying continues?

Bullying can be very upsetting and can affect children and young people for a long time, even through into their adult years.  It can sometimes be difficult for others, particularly adults to understand the distress and misery bullying causes.  Sometimes this behaviour can be the normalised within the ‘culture’ of a school, organisation, club or social group.

Peoples self esteem is severely damaged by bullying. Victims can believe that they deserve it.  This leads to feelings of anxiety, anger, and despair.  For young people these feelings can lead to school refusal, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, taking drugs, or other high risk behaviours.

If bullying is left unaddressed, the effects of it will have an impact on school work, higher education, even future career choices and employment.   Future personal relationships will also be also be affected if bullying behaviour is left un attended to.   Whether a bully victim or instigator, these unhealthy behaviours towards others, work colleagues, friends, family, future children will continue.

What harm does bullying do? 

It can sometimes be difficult for adults to understand the distress and misery bullying causes, especially if the bullying is ‘only’ teasing or name-calling. But bullying can be very upsetting and can affect children and young people for a long time.

A child or young person who is being bullied may come to believe they deserve it. They can feel isolated, anxious and angry. Bullying can lead to depression, self-injury and eating problems. If the bullying is happening at school they may make excuses so they don’t have to go to school, or get so anxious they cannot go in. This can affect their school work, friendships, and even their future prospects.

Being bullied regularly can be associated with problems later on in life as well. Some adults who were bullied when they were young can suffer from depression, anger problems and low self-esteem.

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