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Bullying

Bullying can happen to anyone at any age. Being bullied at school, home or online might involve someone pushing you, hitting you, teasing you, talking about you or calling you names. Nobody has the right to hurt you or make you feel bad. If you are being bullied you don't have to deal with it alone - talking to someone about it can often really help.

ChildLine can help

Think about a caterpillar, then a buttery. Amazing things can happen and life can get better again

If you or a friend are being bullied, it can sometimes feel like nothing can make it stop, especially if it has been happening for a long time.

Bullying can leave you feeling anxious, depressed, lonely, worthless and scared - but it doesn't have to be like this. We are a free, confidential support service who speak to thousands of young people every day - you are not alone. Talk to us - we can help you with whatever you're going through.

"I was a victim of bullying back in school. My advice is to always tell someone straight away and ask for help. Keeping it to yourself will only be more damaging in the long run." Liam Payne, One Direction

What is bullying?

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.

Getting help if you are being bullied

Different ways you can receive help through ChildLine:

Building your self-esteem
Being bullied can knock anybody’s confidence. A single insult can stay with you for a long time - to the point where you start believing that what the bullies say about you is true - even though it isn't. Nobody deserves to be bullied and it isn't your fault that you are the target - it can happen to anybody.
Find out how you can build your confidence and self-esteem

You are not alone
Sadly, lots of young people have experienced bullying from name-calling on social networks to physical threats. Get support from other young people who are in the same situation as you on the bullying message board.

  • Will ChildLine tell anyone what I say?

    ChildLine is a private and confidential place for you to talk. This means that whatever you say, stays between you and ChildLine. You don't even need to give us your real name if you don't want to.

    We would only say something if:
    - you ask us to
    - you or a friend's life is in immediate danger
    - you are being hurt by someone in a position of trust such as a teacher or police officer

  • I am being bullied, what can I do?

    Tell a friend
    Your mates can support you, even if you’re not ready to talk about it in detail. They can 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. Ask about the anti-bullying policy at your school.

    Contact ChildLine
    You can contact ChildLine for free on 0800 1111, anytime. Our friendly counsellors are here to listen and support you and can help you to stop the bullying in your particular situation. Find out more about contacting ChildLine

    Find a way to stay safe at school
    No-one should be too scared to go into 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 the bullies. 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.

    Block the bully from contacting you
    Some phones will let you block numbers. You can also block, delete or unfriend other users on many social networking sites. Stopping them from contacting you could help you feel less stressed and upset.

    Don’t go along with what they want
    Going along with what they want will give them the message that bullying is working.

    Find out about your school’s anti-bullying policy
    It’s good to know what your school has promised to do if bullying happens. There might be something in the policy that could help you.

    Keep a record of the bullying
    Saving texts, emails and messages or writing down when someone has bullied you in person can be a useful way to keep track of what has happened and will help when you are ready to report the bullying.

  • Why am I being bullied?

    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 in person or online, then you might think that it's your fault - but it isn't.

  • My friend is being bullied, what can I do?

    Be there for your friend
    Sometimes your friend might not want to talk, but being there to listen whenever they are ready is important.

    Help take their mind off it
    Hanging out, going for a walk, watching a film or playing games together are good ways to take someone’s mind off their problems for a little while.

    Support your friend to help them speak out about bullying
    It can be very daunting to open up to an adult about your problems. Going with a friend if they’re feeling nervous is a great way to support them.

    Help your friend stay safe at school
    Staying in a group is a good way to help stop bullying during break times.

    Walk home with your friend or sit with them on the bus
    It can be hard to get away from people involved in bullying when you are on the way to or from school. Walking with a friend and sitting in a group on the bus could help stop the bullying.

    Speak to ChildLine about what is happening
    You can talk to ChildLine, whatever your worry – even if you are worried about something that’s happening to someone else.

    Tell your friend about ChildLine
    Make sure your friend knows that they can contact ChildLine any time, day or night, online or by phone. It’s free and confidential, meaning nobody else needs to know.

    Find out about your school’s anti-bullying policy
    It’s good to know what your school has promised to do in the event of bullying. There might be something in the policy that could help your friend.

  • Who can be a bully?


    Anyone could end up getting involved with bullying. Some people may not realise that what they are doing is bullying and might think they are just teasing, but some people deliberately set out to bully someone and make them unhappy.

    You might be bullied by other young people who live near you, or who do activities outside of school with you, like sports or music. You can be bullied by people you have never met through your mobile phone or on the internet.

    Members of your family can also bully you. If an adult bullies a child or young person, this is called physical or emotional abuse and it's really important tell someone about it.

  • I am a bully, what can I do?

    Admit to yourself that you are involved in bullying
    The first step is admitting that what you are doing is hurting another person. When you know that, you can figure out how to stop.

    Say sorry to the people you are bullying
    It takes a great deal of courage to admit what you are doing is wrong, and apologise sincerely.

    Think about what is making you bully someone
    Is there something happening in your life which is making you upset, frustrated or angry?

    Stop yourself from sending an abusive message
    Sending a message, writing a post, a tweet, an email or a text which is designed to hurt someone else is bullying. Even if you’ve written the message out, you can delete it.

    Stop yourself from sharing or commenting on an abusive post or message
    Even a comment like LOL or a smiley face on an abusive post can make the other person feel much worse, like they’re being ganged up on.

    Find a new way to gain people’s respect
    Find a way to gain people's genuine respect. This could be as simple as deciding to answer more questions in lessons. You could practise your favourite sport and become fitter or work on a talent, like singing, dance or drawing.

    Speak to ChildLine
    You might worry that nobody will help you if you admit to bullying. We won't judge you or put you down - ChildLine are here to listen to you, no matter what your worry is.

  • My teacher is bullying me, what can I do?

    Your teachers have a duty to look after you. If they or any other adult working in the school is being mean to you, this is not fair. You have a right not to be made to feel stupid, be called names or punished unfairly. Talk to another teacher who you trust, perhaps your form teacher, and tell them what is happening.

  • I'm too scared to go to school - what should I do?

    Nobody has the right to stop you from going to school. Your school has a duty to protect you from bullying and keep you safe. Try taking a quiet moment to talk to someone you trust and tell them about the problem. That could be a teacher or someone else you feel comfortable talking to. They can get in touch with your school and work out a way to help you.

  • I am being bullied outside school, what can I do?

    If the bullying is happening on your way to or from school there are things you can do to stop this:

    • Plan a different route to school so you don't have to go through the areas where the bullying happens
    • Keep to well-lit and busy areas so that you don’t have to walk alone at any time

    • Take a safety alarm with you – they are not expensive and create a loud noise which can attract help and put bullies off
    • Walk with friends, or older brothers and sisters if possible
    • If you are being bullied on a bus, sit downstairs rather than on the top deck and tell the driver about what is happening.  If it’s a school bus then you can talk to your teacher – they are responsible for you while on a school bus and can make the bullying stop
    • Keep a diary of what is happening with dates and times.

    If the people bullying you go to the same school as you, it is a good idea to let the school know what is happening, no matter where or when it is they are bullying you.  They may not be able to take action about incidents that happen in the evenings or at weekends, but they can make sure it doesn’t happen in school. If the bullies are being violent towards you, it could be helpful to talk to your parents or carers about involving the police who can help you.

    If you don’t feel that you can talk to your parents or carers, you can call ChildLine on 0800 1111. You don’t have to put up with this on your own.

  • I am being bullied at home, what can I do?

    If you are being bullied at home by one of your siblings, you should try to talk to your parents or carers about what is happening.  They need to know what is going on so they can help make it stop.  If you don’t feel like you can talk to a parent or carer, you can always talk to ChildLine.

    If you are being bullied by your parents you could try talking to someone who is close to you.  Perhaps you have another family member such as aunt or uncle that you could speak to.  If you don’t have another family member to talk to,  you could speak to your teacher and tell them what is happening to you. 

    If you don’t feel that you have anyone you can talk to, you can always call ChildLine on 0800 1111.

  • I am being bullied online, what can I do?

    Sometimes people experience bullying through the internet, mobile phones, online games, social networks or other kinds of digital technology. There are a number of steps you can take to stop this kind of bullying.  Learn the best ways to deal with bullying on lots of different social media sites.

    Find out more about cyber bullying and how to make it stop

  • People are sending me nasty texts on my mobile phone what can I do?

    If you are receiving nasty or threatening texts or calls on your mobile, tell an adult like a parent or teacher. They can help you put a stop to this. If it doesn't stop you need to tell the police.

    All UK mobile companies are used to dealing with nuisance calls and will have people you can call who can help you deal with this. In the meantime:

    • Don't reply to any nasty messages you receive.
    • Keep the messages that you have been sent so you can show someone.
    • Don't answer any calls that are from a withheld number, or from a number
    you don't know.
    • Change your mobile number and only give your new number out to close friends.
    • If the problem is serious, tell the police or you can call ChildLine on 0800 1111 and we can help.

    Mobile phone operators can't stop a particular number from contacting another phone, but you can do this on some types of phone. Check your phone's user guide to see if yours can. The mobile phone operator can only take action on an account that is being used to bully you (such as blocking it) if the police are involved. 

     Find out more about being bullied through your mobile.

  • What is 'sexting'?

    ‘Sexting’ is when someone sends or is sent sexually explicit pictures or videos on their mobile phone. You might be encouraged to take pictures of yourself naked or film yourself doing things that you may not be happy about and send them to people. There may also be pressure on you to look at explicit messages that people have been sent, and to encourage other people to get involved.

    It’s important to only do what you feel comfortable with. Remember that once you have sent a picture or video to someone else or put it up online, you have no control about where it will go and who will see it. Before sending anything, take a moment to think how you would feel if it ended up on YouTube or on Facebook. If you wouldn’t want anyone else to see it, don’t send it.

    If you are worried about anything to do with sexting or being bullied anywhere, you can talk to ChildLine on 0800 1111. Get information and advice about sexting

  • Different kinds of bullying...

    Homophobic
    Bullying someone because they are a different sexual orientation from you. Saying that someone is ‘gay’ or using words like ‘gay’ as an insult.

    Racist
    Treating people differently because of their race, the colour of their skin, where they are from or what they believe in and using offensive words that describe race to bully people.

    Sexist
    Treating people differently based on whether they are female or male. For example, thinking that boys are better than girls.

    Disabilist
    Treating someone differently if they are disabled, or using offensive language to describe people who are disabled and using this to bully people.

    Lookist
    Bullying someone because they look different such as if they have ginger hair or wear glasses.

    Classist
    Deciding that someone is from a particular social class – usually if they are seen as being rich or poor - and bullying them because of this. For example, calling somebody a, 'chav' or, 'snob'.

  • I think I’m being bullied in my sports team but I’m not sure

    If you are not picked for the team, this doesn’t always mean you are being bullied. This can be upsetting, but the coach or team manager often has to pick the strongest side. Some people may have to miss out – but this usually depends on what age or competition level you’re playing at. If you are feeling left out, it may be a good idea to join a team at a different level so you can take part more.

    Some sports are really physical. This means if you get knocked around a bit, it might not be bullying – it could just be a normal part of the sport.

    However, if people who you play sport with keep saying nasty things or keep making fun of you, this is bullying. It is not okay. If this is happening, it is a good idea to ask an adult for help. If you don’t feel like you could talk to an adult involved in the team, you could talk to a family member or a teacher.

  • How can using words to bully you make you feel?

    Words might not physically hurt you, but they can stay with you for a long time and make you feel bad. Using words and language to bully people is a form of emotional abuse.

    If you are being called names, it can make you feel scared, anxious, lonely and sad. In extreme cases, being bullied might make some young people want to withdraw and may cause problems with school and family relationships. It may also lead to young people self-harming or finding other ways to let their feelings out. Find out more about emotional abuse

  • I want to find out more about...

Online bullying message board

Talk to other young people about your experience.

Go to the online bullying message board

Call ChildLine

You can call ChildLine at any time on 0800 1111 to speak to a counsellor. Calls are free and confidential.

Call ChildLine

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Bullying