Bullying – the facts and the remedies

Bullying can be verbal abuse such as name-calling, sarcastic remarks or spreading rumours. It can be physical attack such as kicking, punching, pinching, throwing stuff or tripping up.

Bullying also involves intimidation (making people do things because they are scared) such as threatening someone or deliberately trying to cause distress to someone. Bullying is almost always repeated and usually occurs over a period of weeks, months or even years.

Not every aggressive act counts as bullying of course. Sometimes people just have an argument, have a fight, or say something in the heat of the moment. If these things just happen on their own then it might not be classed as bullying.

Bullying doesn’t have to be face-to-face. More and more people are being bullied via text messages, email, instant messaging or websites. Bullies have been known to create websites to bully people with, spreading rumours and being nasty via the web.

Young people who are victims of cyber-bullying are more likely to use technology to pick on people themselves, researchers have found.

A survey of secondary school pupils found girls were more likely to bully others using texts or the internet, as boys stuck to more traditional forms of bullying. Child psychologist Shane Gallagher found that parents were unlikely to know the extent of the problem, whether their child was a victim or a bully.

What are the effects of bullying?

Repeated bullying can make you feel:

Low – the feeling can turn into depression

Stressed

Alone – this can affect how you are doing at school

Like a failure

Ashamed

People who are bullied can lose confidence in themselves and it can affect their self-esteem, which is why many find it hard to speak out about what is happening to them.

Some victims of bullying withdraw from their friends and skive off school. Bullying has caused people to self-harm or even kill themselves.

What can I do if I’m being bullied?

The first thing you can do is speak to someone you trust – a parent, friend, youth worker or teacher. They will be able to help you decide what to do next.

For information about bullying and advice on what to do visit the bullying information in Young Scots relationship section.