School life is many things for many different people. For you it may be fun, necessary, boring, or maybe even horrifying. You may find it horrifying for many reasons, one of these reasons is being bullied. Being bullied can make your school life extremely difficult as someone or a group of people are actively trying to hurt you and make your life a lot more difficult. Being bullied can be difficult to deal with and it is important that you know how to deal with it.
There is no one set way to deal with bullying. Although there are many things that can be done to help support the person being bullied. Many of these interventions involve the institution (school) working closely with parents and students to help anyone being bullied.
If you are being bullied or you know someone who is, please read the rest of the article to give yourself a better understanding of what bullying is and how to deal with it effectively.
Table of Contents
What is Bullying?
It is important to know exactly what bullying is because this is the first step to dealing with it. In order to deal with it you have to understand it properly rather than just knowing its definition or some of what it includes.
Bullying is a when a person or a group of people repeatedly intend to physically or emotionally harm someone else using physical or emotional abuse. Bullies tend to target specific people based on certain aspects. These aspects can be anything, but some rather common ones are race, religion, appearance and sexual orientation. This is the source where the definition of bullying was taken.
Bullying can be done in many forms, such as physically, verbally, psychologically (this is done by spreading rumours and gossiping) or cyberbullying. These forms can come with various traits, such as: teasing and taunting, name calling, making threats and physical assault (such as punching or kicking).
Cyberbullying is a more general form of bullying that tends to be quite similar to either verbal bullying or psychological bullying. Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices, such as your phone, computer, or tablet.
Bullying regularly occurs on platforms such as social media, online gaming communities and online forums or chat rooms. Check out this article to find out more. It can also be used by a bully or a group of bullies to escalate and intensify already existing bullying.
Bullying (and cyberbullying) is a serious problem in the UK, especially in schools. In 2019, 1 in 5 young people, between the ages of 12 and 20, had been bullied. This is an incredibly concerning statistic which proves how important it is for you to know how to deal with bullying if it occurs. Click here to read the article where these statistics were taken.
How to Know if You’re Being Bullied
It can be difficult to know if you’re actually being bullied, you may think that it is just a bit of joking around or someone playing a bit rough. The main distinction with bullying is that it is meant to hurt. Read this link to learn more on the difference between teasing and bullying.
If your friends are pushing and shoving and you end up getting hurt, try talking to them about it. If they aren’t trying to hurt you then they should express that and may even apologise. The same goes for teasing. It can be harmless and even a healthy sign of friendship, but it if it is particularly mean and constant then it may be a sign of bullying.
There may also be other signs. You may be able to notice them as signs because there may be certain things that make you feel uncomfortable due to someone else’s actions or words. You may want to check out this article about the signs of being bullied.
How to Deal with Bullying at School
Bullying is a serious issue, that crucially needs to be dealt with. Whether you are being bullied or you know someone who is, you cannot just ignore it. Try following these steps to help stop the bullying.
Step 1: Identify the Problem
If you are being bullied, there is definitely a problem (and it is not you). Without properly identifying the problem, it can be hard to deal with and fix. You may find it useful to identity exactly what is going on yourself and then report it. Schools are not always so helpful in identifying the problem by themselves (although this will fully depend on what school you attend).
To begin with, you can identify who is bullying you, is it one person or a group of people? Do you know them well? Are they like this to others as well? Then you may want to think about why they are bullying you.
Bullies tend to attack based on certain aspects, such as: race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and appearance. If they are targeting you specifically because of a certain aspect of you, then you definitely need to report this.
Step 2: Tell Someone
Telling someone is the first stage of resolving the problem and stopping the bullying. When you tell someone that you are being bullied, you must remember that you have nothing to be ashamed of because you are not the problem, the bully is.
You may want to tell your friends or siblings, especially if you are close to them. As long as you are sure that you can trust them to handle the situation responsibly, then it’s completely fine to tell them. If you feel you can’t speak to your siblings beforehand you may want to tell them after the situation has already been dealt with.
The first person you should tell is an adult that you trust, such as a teacher, parent, or legal guardian. These trusted adults can help you to report the bullying to your school and they can also support you after the situation has been dealt with. They will also have a lot more authority than your friends or siblings so they can help resolve the situation for you more easily.
Otherwise, you can directly report bullying to your school. This may be by telling your form tutor or head of year (if you’re at secondary school) or maybe even by telling a specific department in your school, who would normally deal with issues.
You may want to talk to someone you don’t know or someone who isn’t closely related to you. One way to do this is through counselling. Counselling is a talking therapy, where you will have a trained therapist to help you find ways to deal with your mental health issues and manage your emotions. Counselling may be especially effective if you have already struggled with your mental health prior to being bullied, or if you are suffering from some of the more serious consequences of bullying, such as anxiety and depression. Check out this link to learn more about counselling.
Step 3: Protect Your Mental Health
Teenage life can heavily impact on your mental health anyway, without the added pain of someone actively trying to hurt you either emotionally, physically, or both. Being bullied can seriously damage your mental health. It is no surprise that it is known to have some serious short term and long-term effects, click here to learn more about these effects.
Some of these effects, such as low self-esteem and symptoms of anxiety and depression can get worse and become much longer-term effects. To stop this from happening, you need to make sure that you are protecting your mental health.
Protecting your mental health is an essential life skill that everyone should know (especially when you’re at school). Knowing how exactly you can protect your mental health is not easy, especially as it is so different for everyone. It can come in many different forms, such as: understanding how you feel, talking to someone, relaxing and even simply looking after yourself physically.
Looking after yourself physically, such as making sure that you are getting the right amount of sleep, eating properly and getting some regular exercise can greatly improve your mental health.
Relaxing can also be done in a number of ways. Trying meditation, mindfulness or yoga can help you to do this. These methods of relaxation can help you to clear your head, which can also help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Alternatively, you may want to relax by taking time out to do something that you enjoy. This will be different for everyone, so you will have to think for yourself about a hobby that you would love to do to relax. Check out this article for more ways to protect your mental health.
Step 4: Build Your Self Esteem
Being bullied can be particularly damaging to your self-esteem, so it is important that as well as your general mental health, you try and build this.
Self-esteem is pretty much how much you value yourself regardless of the circumstances. It may be easier to think of it as self-worth, self-regard, or self-confidence. Having a positive self-esteem (not too high and not too low) is important because it influences how you make decisions and how well you are able to take care of yourself.
Improving your self-esteem can help prevent further bullying at school, as bullies tend to target people who already have little confidence as a result of a low self-esteem. Also, it can help you to move on from being bullied and how you have been treated more easily, which may help to reduce the long-term effects of being bullied. I recommend you read this article to see how high self-esteem can prevent bullying.
Building your self-esteem is a long process; it’s not something that will happen overnight. To build your self-esteem you may want to tell someone, such as your parent(s) or legal guardian and ask them to help you. This is because self-esteem can be quite complicated as it is built unconsciously, so you may struggle to even identify it by yourself.
A pretty big part of building your self-esteem is by getting to know yourself and accepting every part. Part of this is identifying your strengths and weaknesses and learning from them. Also, it is important for you to be kind to yourself, both mentally and physically. You can read this article to learn more ways to improve your self-esteem.
Step 5: Understand That it is Not Your Fault
Part of building your self-esteem and moving on from being bullied is by understanding that it is not your fault. You are not the problem, the bully is. This is crucial for you to understand and accept. Without doing so you won’t be able to truly accept yourself, which can damage further your self-esteem and negatively impact on your mental health. Check out this article on the importance of accepting and loving yourself.
You need to stop blaming yourself, it is not your fault. A good way to help with this is to practice self-love and to try your best to move on. You may want to talk to someone about this too, look above for more information about talking to someone. You may also want to look at this article about ‘How to Stop Self-Blaming and Start Forgiving Yourself.’
Step 6: Learn to Relieve Stress
Another major part of protecting your mental health is releasing stress. As a teenager, knowing how to release stress is essential. This is because during this stage of your life and mental development stress can often build up very high due to many factors, such as your school life or your social life. Bullying can further add stress and it can make you feel overwhelmed by the situation that you are in and even by your emotions.
Talking to someone is a great way to try and stop yourself from being overwhelmed by your situation and your emotions. However, you may not feel completely comfortable with talking about how you feel, or you may just want to find an alternative way to release stress, that is perfectly fine too. Other than talking to someone, there are many other great ways to release your stress and other emotions safely.
You may have to do some trial and error before you find the perfect way for you but once you do it will be incredibly beneficial to your mental wellbeing. You may find it useful to have some time to yourself or try some relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga (as mentioned above). Check out this article for more ideas on how to relieve stress.
Step 7: Have a Digital Detox
A digital detox is a planned period of time where you refrain from using any of your technological devices, such as your smartphone, computer/laptop, television, iPad/tablet, etc. You don’t have to do it for very long, even just one hour per day or a couple of hours on the weekend could have some benefits. Digital devices such as these, can be major distractions from other things in our lives, such as spending time with friends or family. When on a digital detox you can even find new things to try out, these may even help you to reduce stress and relax.
Digital devices emit blue light, this can make it take longer to fall asleep and cause disruptions during your sleep. You can read more about blue light here. The NHS website recommends you need to get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep per night to keep you healthy, on both a mental and physical level. Click here to read some more NHS sleep tips.
This is exceptionally important while you deal with bullying, as bullying can damage your health, both mentally and physically, and a lack of sleep can even make you feel worse. Check out this article on how a lack of sleep can affect you.
Another reason why taking a digital detox can really help you deal with bullying is because of social media. With social media, we can often feel pressured by its standards of “perfection” and “normality”, we may even want to change ourselves to meet these standards. This is not good for your self-esteem, so taking a break from your phone and social media in general can really help you.
Also, if you are also being or have been cyberbullied via social media then you should definitely take a break from it. Turning off your social media due to bullies is not a form or running and it’s not weak, it’s just you are shutting out what irrelevant people have to say and protecting your own mental health. I’d say that’s pretty strong.
How to Deal with Bullying at School For Others
Bullying may not be happening to you, but you may be aware of someone else it’s happening to. If this is the case, I advise you try your best to support the person and certainly don’t get yourself involved.
Don’t Get Involved
Getting physically involved can be dangerous to both yourself and the person being bullied so it is important that you stay out of the situation. This is especially important as you are trying to help the person being bullied and you could lead to the bullying getting worse for the person or get hurt yourself by the bully (or group of bullies).
A large part of not getting involved is to not bully the bully. While you may think of it as showing the bully what they have done and how they have made someone else feel or even as some kind of revenge, bullying the bully can actually do more harm than good.
For starters, it can get you into trouble, which if you’re trying to help someone is not a great idea. It may mean that the bully is seen as the victim and won’t get the punishment they deserve. Also, bullying someone else, even if it’s because they bullied someone, makes you the bully, who is hurting someone and making them feel bad.
Don’t Be a Bystander
While getting involved can be harmful to the person who is being bullied, so is being a bystander. I won’t go as far as to say that as a bystander you are just as bad as the bully, but I will say that you aren’t helping the situation.
Standing up to the bully and doing something to help the person who is being bullied (without getting involved) is something that takes a lot of courage. You may fear being isolated by your peers or having the bullying turned on you due to this, but you shouldn’t let that worry you and stop you from doing a good thing.
One of the first things you should do in order to not be a bystander is to tell a teacher (or some other adult in authority that you can report it to). A teacher (or other adult) can help deal with the problem, as long as they know about it.
You may want to talk to a teacher that you trust, or one that knows you and the people involved. This could be your form tutor or head of year if you’re in secondary school. This will make it easier for you to report and maybe even easier for the situation to be resolved, but your school may even have its own system for reporting bullying.
Also, you may want to check that the person being bullied is okay and try to find a way to make their day a little brighter.