What can I do if I’m bullying someone?
If you think that you might be displaying bullying behaviour, we thank you for checking out this page because it shows that you are taking your actions seriously and want to find ways to stop, which is a really positive start.
Bullying is a behaviour and NOT a label, which means that, with the right help and support, you can change your behaviours and turn them into more positive actions.
We’ll start with a definition, as it’s important to identify if something is really bullying behaviour or if it’s a one-off incident, friends falling out or ‘banter’.
Banter can form a part of healthy friendships. It means that both people are in on the joke. It’s equal and light-hearted and doesn’t target things that you know someone is uncomfortable about or something like race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or disability. Excusing bullying behaviour as ‘just a joke’ or ‘banter’ is not ok – that’s why having a clear definition can help with this. It helps us to know if something is or isn’t bullying behaviour.
The Diana Award defines bullying behaviour as “repeated, negative behaviour that is intended to make others feel upset, uncomfortable or unsafe”.
It must be both repeated (more than once) and intended (on purpose) for something to be considered bullying behaviour.
Types of bullying behaviour_
Verbal – the repeated, negative use of speech ,sign language, or verbal gestures to intentionally hurt others e.g. using hurtful words, discriminatory or offensive language or swear words.
Indirect – the repeated, negative use of actions, which are neither physical nor verbal, to intentionally hurt others e.g. spreading rumours, purposefully excluding another person, damaging or stealing someone’s property or cyberbullying.
Physical – the repeated, negative use of body-contact to intentionally hurt others e.g. kicking, punching, slapping, in appropriate touching, or spitting.
Cyberbullying – is a type of indirect bullying behaviour and is the repeated, negative use of technology to intentionally hurt others e.g. posting unwanted pictures or messages, accessing another person’s account without permission, creating fake accounts to impersonate or harass someone or sharing other people’s private information online.
There is usually a reason why someone might display bullying behaviour towards someone else. This might be because:
· They have experienced bullying behaviour themselves and are reacting to this
· They might be experiencing something else in their lives that is hard to deal with
· They are struggling with low self-confidence or self-worth
· They see bullying behaviour at home or in school
Here are our top tips for what to do if you think that you might be displaying bullying behaviour towards someone and want to stop.
REFLECT ONYOUR BEHAVIOUR_
Have another read of the definition of bullying behaviour and the types of bullying behaviour – it can be very easy to dismiss what we’re doing as ‘just a joke’ or ‘banter’. It’s hard to accept that we might be displaying bullying behaviour towards someone and you might be feeling guilty about this. Feeling guilt can be a powerful tool because it can encourage us to face up to something and motivate us to change.
A problem shared is a problem halved. By speaking to someone who you trust such as a parent, carer or trusted teacher, they will be able to support you and give you new ideas for ways to make changes to your behaviour. By working through problems and scenarios with this trusted adult, you are trying to figure out solutions for how you could do things differently. If you’re struggling with something, maybe like some of the things we listed above, speaking to someone can really help, as it means that you don’t have to deal with it by yourself.
With your trusted adult, think about ways that you could ‘put things right’ with the other person/s. You could first write down what you want to say and practice reading it out loud. Say sorry to the person and offer them support but remember that they may not want to speak with you and you’ll need to respect their wishes.
BE ANUPSTANDER ONLINE_
Don’t share things online that are negative or targeted at someone. Remove yourself from group chats that you don’t feel comfortable in or that you’ve participated in in a negative way in the past. If you see things online that make you feel uncomfortable such as negative posts or comments targeted at yourself or someone else, you can screenshot and then report them anonymously to the social media platform. By showing that you are now an online Upstander to bullying behaviour, others who are cyberbullying may be encouraged to stop. Often, it only takes one person to make a change for others to follow their example.
BE ANUPSTANDER OFFLINE_
Start to think how you can be an Upstander to bullying behaviour offline – this could be by encouraging others to move away from a situation so as not to provide onlookers; this could be starting to find other things to do at break times like joining a sports club at school and putting your energy into this. It could be reporting bullying behaviour to an adult if you see it happening in school; it could be as simple as asking someone if they’re ok if you know they are experiencing bullying behaviour. These are all ways that you can demonstrate that you are now an Upstander to bullying behaviour offline too.
If you need further support or don’t feel able to speak to a trusted adult in your life, you could contact Childline for free on 0800 1111 or use The Diana Award Advice Messenger, which provides free, 24/7 support across the UK. If you are a young person in crisis, you can text DA to 85258. Trained volunteers will listen to how you’re feeling and help you think the next step towards feeling better.
We hope these hints and tips have helped. Remember, by checking out this article, you are already showing that you are reflecting on your behaviour and want to make a change and that’s great to see!