Advice for Young People
Nobody has the right to hurt other people by hitting them, kicking them, calling them names, spreading rumours about them or by doing anything else which is intended to be upsetting.
Bullies try to justify their actions by saying that it is their victim's fault for being different. They may pick on someone who is tall or small, or fat or thin, or wears glasses, or has a different accent, or another religion, or is shy or clever, or good looking, or disabled or . . . Any excuse will do, and if there is no real difference then the bullies will invent one.
If this is happening to you tell yourself that it is not your fault, and that it is the bullies who need to change, not you.
What To Do
- Talk to someone you can trust, a teacher, parent, older friend or relative.
- Be persistent. If the first person you talk to ignores you don't give up, speak to someone else.
- If you can, write down everything the bullies have done or have said to you, and try to write down how you feel. When you have found someone you can trust and who is helpful, discuss what you have written with that person. Be very careful to only write down things which really happen.
- If you find it difficult to talk to an adult, ask one of your friends to come with you, or ask someone to talk to an adult on your behalf.
- You could telephone Childline (Freephone 0800 441111 or Freephone 0800 1111). Their helpers provide a confidential counselling service for young people in trouble or danger.
- Most importantly, do something. Sometimes bullying stops quickly but doing nothing means it may continue until someone is seriously upset or hurt. That could be you, or the bullies may find new victims. If their behaviour is not challenged they are unlikely to stop.
What Not To Do
- Don't try to deal with the problem on your own- there is nothing wrong in asking for help.
- Don't hit the bullies- you might end up being accused of bullying yourself
- Always tell the truth about what has happened. Don't exaggerate. If a small part of what you are saying is shown to be untrue then it throws everything else into doubt.
- Don't believe the lies that the bullies tell about you.
- Don't hide what is happening from the adults you trust. Keeping things secret is the bullies' biggest weapon against you. That is why they go to so much trouble to try to stop you telling.
Bullying is wrong whatever the age of the person who is bullying you. Adults can bully children in many different ways. If an adult is doing something to you, or trying to make you do something you do not like, but you are not sure if this is bullying, then you must talk to someone.
If this is happening at school you can talk to your parents. If this is happening at home you could talk to a trusted teacher. Do not keep it a secret. The only way to stop bullying is to talk openly about it.
You do not have to be a victim to act. If you do nothing when you see someone being bullied the bullies may think that you approve of what they are doing. Part of the fun that bullies get comes from the reaction of bystanders. You can help by:
- challenging all bullying behaviour
- befriending younger children
- talking about bullying
or, by taking part in your schools' anti-bullying activities such as:
- acting in plays
- designing posters
- carrying out surveys
The single most important thing a school can do to prevent bullying is to have a clear policy to which staff, pupils and parents are committed. To help achieve this The Scottish Executive Education Department has sent copies of two anti-bullying packs to all Scottish schools.
Most education authorities in Scotland have produced materials or employ people to help schools tackle bullying. Ask your parents or teachers to contact the Education Office if you want to find out about local developments.
Two organisations operate telephone helplines for young people in Scotland:
(a bullying helpline open from 3.30pm to 9.30pm, Monday to Friday)
(a 24 hour general helpline for young people in trouble or danger)
Childline have also put advice about what to do about bullying on to their website.
Their address is http://www.childline.org.uk/bullying.html
Scottish Child Law Centre
Freephone 0800 328 8970 (Legal advice for under 18s)
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