Some forms of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. These include:
- violence or assault
- repeated harassment or intimidation, for example name calling, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages
- hate crimes
Call 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger.
Schools and the law
By law, all state (not private) schools must have a behaviour policy in place that includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils.
This policy is decided by the school. All teachers, pupils and parents must be told what it is.
Schools must also follow anti-discrimination law. This means staff must act to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation within the school.
Bullying can mean many different things and young people have described bullying as:
- being called names
- being put down or humiliated
- being teased
- being pushed or pulled about
- having money and other possessions taken or messed about with
- having rumours spread about you
- being ignored and left out
- being hit, kicked or physically hurt
- being threatened or intimidated
These things can happen at school or at home, but they can also happen online or on social networks.
Bullying can also be part of other forms of abuse, including neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
People can be bullied for all sorts of reasons or for no particular reason at all. Sometimes people who bully others pick up on a small thing that makes someone stand out and they use it to hurt them. This might be the way someone looks, the things they like doing or even what kinds of clothes they wear.
Everyone is different, and it’s these differences that make people who they are. If you are being bullied, it is important to know that it is NOT your fault.
- Tell a friend
Your mates can support you, even if you’re not ready to talk about it in detail. They can help take your mind off it and support you when you tell an adult you trust.
- Tell a parent or guardian
They should be there for you, even if you’re not ready to take it to your teachers.
- Tell a teacher
The teachers in your school have a duty to look after you. You have a right to feel safe at school. Ask about the anti-bullying policy at your school - this should have details of what the school will do to tackle bullying.
- Contact ChildLine
You can contact ChildLine for free on 0800 1111, anytime.
- Find a way to stay safe at school
Nobody should be made to feel scared about going to school. You have a right to be there. Try to stay away from anyone who is involved in bullying and stay in a group of friends when you don’t feel safe.
- Walk home with someone or get a lift
If bullying happens on the way home, it might seem really hard to get away from it. Walking with someone, changing your route or getting a lift can help.
- Ask your mates to look out for you
Your friends can be there for you, even if you don’t want to talk about the details to them. They can support you to tell someone who could help make it stop.
- Don’t fight back
You could get in trouble or get hurt if you fight back against people involved in bullying. There’s no shame in not fighting back.
- Don’t reply to an abusive message
Replying to an abusive message could make the bullying worse and might end up upsetting you more. It's a good idea to save these messages so that you can show them to a teacher or another adult.
- Block the bully from contacting you
Some phones will let you block numbers. You can also block, delete or unfriend other users on lots of social networking sites. Stopping them from contacting you could help you feel less stressed and upset.
- Build your self-esteem
Experiencing bullying can knock anybody’s confidence. A single insult can stay with you for a long time. Sometimes you may even start believing that the insults are true - even though they aren’t. Nobody deserves to be bullied and it isn't your fault that it is happening. It can happen to anybody.