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We’ve all heard the term ‘bully’ get thrown around, but what is usually meant by the term ‘bully’?  

What is bullying and what do you do when you experience bullying? Maybe someone has called you a bully and you’re worried they might be right? 

We’ll explain what bullying actually is, the behaviour that goes along with it, and what to do next. 

How to spot bullying

Sometimes bullying can be obvious, other times, not so much. The one common thing about bullying is that it’s not a single, one-off occurrence of bad behaviour, it’s ongoing. 

There’s different types of bullying and these can include

  • Verbal. Repeated name calling, put downs, and verbal insults. 
  • Physical. Repeatedly hitting, pushing, cornering and threatening, tripping, and taking someone’s things.
  • Social. Repeatedly putting unwanted attention on someone or excluding them by spreading rumours, telling lies, or publicly embarrassing them.
  • Online. Cyberbullying usually involves verbal and social bullying, only it’s conducted from behind a screen. 

Feel like you’ve done some of this stuff to someone else?

If someone’s called you in bully, it can make you feel pretty bad.

The first step you should take is to think back on your actions. Did you deliberately want to hurt someone else? Did you do it a number of times? 

If yes, remember – a ‘bully’ is just a label for someone who’s behaviour needs work, it’s not who you are. So if you think you’ve bullied someone, let someone know and look for help to change your behaviour.

What to do if you’ve been bullied 

Sometimes you may not know you are even being bullied, but you’ll probably notice a change in your feelings. Bullying can make you feel:

  • Embarrassed or ashamed
  • Hopeless and stuck
  • Alone
  • Like you don’t fit in 
  • Depressed and rejected by your friends and other groups of people
  • Unsafe and afraid
  • Confused 
  • Stressed out

If you think you’re being bullied (that is – you’re being the target of repeated bad behaviour), you don’t have to go through it alone. Here’s what you can do: 

  • Don’t ignore it, speak up. Don’t be ashamed to tell others what you’re going through. Tell a teacher, parent, other adult or a friend who can help you. Remember, the sooner you report the bullying and take action, the sooner things can change. You don’t have to see it as ‘dobbing’ someone in either – you should see it as supporting someone who has personal struggles, and those struggles are coming out as bad behaviour.
  • Surround yourself with people you trust. This doesn’t have to be just other kids at school (although it can be). It can also be teachers, your parents, older siblings or friends, and other trusted adults.
  • Be strategic. If there’s a particular area that someone who’s bullying you hangs around, have a friend or trusted adult accompany you. If it’s online, have someone by your side to show them what’s happening and then work out next steps together.

Overcoming bullying can feel easier said than done, but you won’t regret taking action! By standing up to bullies, you’ll be paving a more positive path ahead for yourself, one that keeps your mental and physical health in check! 

If you are being bullied, or if you have recognised that you have bullied someone, the answer is to put an end to it. The best way to do that is to seek help – talk to a teacher, guidance officer, or other trusted adult if it’s happening outside of school. 

If you feel like you need extra help, or if you are no longer being bullied but are still experiencing the impacts its left on you, more support is available. 

For a wide range of organisations who can help