Bullying can happen anywhere: at school, home, work, in online social spaces, via text messaging or via email.
Bullying can have serious short-term and long-term emotional and social consequences both for students who are bullied and those who bully others.
What is bullying?
Bullying is when one person (or a group of people) with more power than someone else repeatedly tries to upset or hurt them.
This power can come from being more popular, stronger or part of the group. They might repeatedly try to hurt them physically, socially isolate them, or say and do mean or humiliating things to them.
Bullying of any form or for any reason can have long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders.
Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious or hidden.
Bullying involves misusing any power that a person has to harm someone else, and might involve repeatedly:
- physically hurting someone
- keeping someone out of a group (online or in person)
- saying mean or humiliating things, or spreading rumours or lies
- sending nasty messages or inappropriate images online
- tagging inappropriate or unflattering images online.
A person can be bullied about:
- how they look
- home or family
- race or culture
- being male
- being female
- a disability
- their mental health
- being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.
Bullying is not the same as conflict or disliking someone even though these things can sometimes lead to bullying.
If someone behaves in a mean or aggressive way on one occasion, it isn’t bullying, even though it is not respectful or acceptable. A fight or disagreement between two people of equal power or status isn’t bullying.
It’s not the same as harassment, but when harassment happens repeatedly to the same person or group, and is intended to harm, it can be bullying. It’s also not the same as discrimination.
Bullying is not OK. It feels awful. You feel like you can’t stop it. You have the right to feel safe.
Why does it happen?
Bullying can happen for many reasons. People may bully because they:
- are angry or unhappy and take it out on others
- may have been bullied themselves
- think it will make them popular or cool
- are trying to fit in with a group
- struggle with school work
- have problems at home
- don’t respect people who are different from them
- think it is funny
- copy what they have seen others do before.
Those who persistently bully others often do so in order to dominate others and improve their own social status. They may not see anything wrong with bullying.
Bullying can have a negative impact on everyone—it is not just a problem for those who are bullied. People who bully others need help to change. If you know of or see others being bullied you may feel angry, fearful, guilty, and sad.
Bullying needs to be stopped.