Bullying is the repeated actions of one, or more people to hurt another person emotionally and/or physically. It can happen to people of any age.
The person might be bullied for a particular reason like their race, sexuality or disability but it can be about anything. It is usually a way for the bully to feel powerful by making another person feel ‘small’, worthless and alone.
Anyone can be the bully - family, friends, school mates, work colleagues or strangers. It can happen anywhere - in a school, workplace, home, social activity or online.
This video from the Anti-Bullying Alliance explains what bullying is in under a minute.
Types Of Bullying
Bullying can include a lot of different behaviours to make the person feel bad. Bullies might;
Often bullying will include a range of these different ways to make the bully feel powerful.
Bullying often takes place face to face. In recent times it has also moved online. Cyberbullying means the nasty behaviours can reach the victim on social media, text being sent either directly to them or saying or sharing unkind things about them.
The victim may face bullying both in and out of their home and it is hard to get away from.
Why People Bully
Bullies need a target. They might be feeling bad about themselves and using bullying as a way to cover up their own unhappiness. It might be a way of trying to protect themselves from others bullying them.
If your child or young person is bullied it is not their fault or your fault. It’s because of a problem the bully has and how bad they are feeling.
If you find out that your child has been involved in bullying someone else it is really important to stay calm and try to find out the facts.
You may feel angry and upset but remember your child is still learning how their behaviour affects others. They will need help to understand how they have hurt someone.
You also need to think about the roots of why your child has behaved like this.
When your child realises the impact of what they have done and made amends - it can still be hard for them to move forward. Other people may take time to ‘forgive’ their behaviour.
It is important that they know that everyone makes mistakes and that they can put this behind them. Reassure them that you love them and know that they have learnt an important lesson.
Your child may not find it easy to tell you that they are being bullied. Children and young people often worry that telling someone will make the situation worse. You might notice that your child is having a hard time by changes in their behaviour.
If you see changes like these, find time to ask how they are. Choose a time when you both have some time to be together. It often helps to have a chat while you are doing something else like walking the dog or washing up together.
This can help your child to feel more comfortable to talk to you. You could say that you have noticed a change and you were wondering if everything is okay with them.
Things You Can Do
If you find out your child has been bullied you are likely to feel angry and upset. You might feel like you haven’t been able to protect your child – this is hard to cope with. It might bring back difficult memories of having been bullied yourself when you were younger.
Try and put these feelings to one side whilst you are with your child. It will make it harder for them to share what is happening if they think it is too upsetting for you. Now you have discovered your child is being bullied you can be an important support to them.
Getting support for yourself from family and friends is an important way of making sure you have the ‘head space’ to keep listening to your child.
Your child may be worried things will be made worse by involving other people. They may not want you to inform school. Be careful not to make promises to your child that you cannot keep. You may have to tell others what is happening to keep your child safe.
Ask your child if they feel able to tell a teacher they trust at school what is happening. If they don’t feel able to - explain why you need to have a conversation with school. Look online at their schools bullying policy together.
Suggest they keep a diary of what is happening and when. If they are being bullied online look together at how they can stop this and keep safe.
Help your child find ways to care for their mental health to help them keep well. Young Minds have some good ideas.
If they have friends who are positive and kind, encourage your child to find ways to spend more time with them. If your child feels they do not have a friendship group at the moment are there any groups for things they are interested in where they can meet new people? They might value spending time with other family members they are close to as well.
Breckland Youth Advisory Board have created this video which your child might find helpful if they are being bullied:
Schools should take all reports of bullying seriously and work with the child to end it. They will recognise the impact this will be having on your child and know the importance of making sure your child feels safe and supported.
They will also offer support to the bully to understand why they are bullying and the way they have made the other person feel.
Your school should have a policy on how bullying is managed. Have a look at the school website to view their 'Anti Bullying Policy'. This will tell you what support or guidance you can expect.
Shelf Help Books
Books about mental health for 13 to 18 year olds, with advice and information about issues like anxiety, stress and OCD, bullying and exams.
All Shelf Help books can be reserved for free from any Norfolk library, or online. The books are available to borrow for up to six weeks.
Health Uncovered Podcast
Health Uncovered is a series of podcasts that aims to get young people in-tune with their health and wellbeing. The series is hosted by BBC Radio One presenter Cel Spellman and features young people and health professionals from our Norfolk Healthy Child Programme.
Life isn't always easy - and young people across the country have been helping us explore the issues that they’re facing today. From online bullying to sexual health, body image to mental health. They've been asking the questions you want to hear answered, joined by the health professionals that help young people, like school nurses and mental health specialists, to provide solutions, support and understanding.
You could talk to their school about the bullying and find out what support is available for your child.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
For adults Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults in Norfolk and Waveney from a professional team of qualified counsellors.
For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support.
Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.
Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.
To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.