Bullying can lead to mental health problems, which is why breaking the cycle is so important.
Bullying takes many forms, including name-calling, physical assault, spreading rumours, stealing, excluding people and turning someone’s friends against them. Happy, secure people don’t bully others; it’s the bullies who have the problem, not those they target.
Sadly, bullying is experienced by many people at some point and if you're a target you need to put an end to it. Here’s how:
- Keep a diary: dates, times, places, who was there and what happened.
- If you’re being cyber-bullied save messages, screen grabs and call records – but don’t respond to the bully.
- Tell teachers, parents and friends right away. If you don’t trust any adults enough, contact Childline or Bullying UK.
If you bully someone you could be responsible for pushing them to the brink – or beyond. It’s easy to see picking on someone as harmless teasing, but nearly half of suicides of young people are because of bullying. Many others who are bullied have to skip school because they can't concentrate, and the effects on their self-esteem and confidence can last for years.
Online (cyber) bullying can be just as hurtful as face-to-face bullying. Because we lead such connected lives it can happen anywhere at any time. To deal with it:
- Block abusers on social media or your phone.
- Keep your details from those you don’t trust or know well.
- Adjust your privacy settings on social media to control who sees what.
There isn’t a specific online bullying law in the UK, but some actions can be criminal offences. People have been prosecuted for abusive behaviour towards others.
Written by Victoria Evans and Jane Bianchi of Teen Health Guide, and edited by Dr William Swallow MBChB, DRCOG, MRCGP
© Teen Health Guide Limited