coming out to homophobic parents

So you’ve read a few blogs or articles, maybe watched some stuff on YouTube… generally done some research on how to come out to your parents. Some have been helpful, some are downright patronizing. But all of them leave you thinking “that’s all very well and good but you don’t know MY mum or dad…”

We’ve got you covered. If you have homophobic parents but you want to come out – this article is for you.

1. Find outside support.

Make sure you have support and tell at least one adult that you trust before you tell your parents. This could be a teacher, someone from your extended family or a friend’s parent. This will give you a safe space to turn to if your parent’s reaction is hostile and help you feel stronger going into it.

2. Check out your options.

Is now the right time? Would a safer option be to wait until you move out or go to Uni? What is your plan B if the worst does happen? Do you have the number for helplines? Can you go and stay with extended family or close a friend if you need some space while your parents adjust to the news. Your safety and well-being must always come first. While it might feel scary to have to think about these questions, it’s crucial to be prepared.

3. Be clear on what you are telling them.

If you are coming out as gay, avoid the trap of thinking that coming out as bisexual first is an easier way to help them reach a place of acceptance.  Stick with the truth, if you are gay, tell them. If you are bisexual, tell them that.

4. Give time, time.

First reactions are raw, unprocessed and unpredictable. We all need time to process big news regardless of the situation. Give your parents time to adjust to this news and know that first reactions are not always lasting reactions.

5. You are not alone.

Right now as you read this article there are millions of people all over the world facing the same situation as you. Never lose sight of the fact you are not alone, you can and will get through this. Keeping your sexuality a secret can be enormously stressful. No matter how scared you might feel now, this will get easier. On the other side of that fear is relief and liberation.

6. Shame is a liar.

If your parent’s reaction is to try and shame you for your sexuality. Please know that shame is a liar. What it tells you and how it seeks to make you feel is distorted bulls***! The whole process of coming out of the closet is going against the shame that plays a part in keeping you hidden and in the dark. Your sexuality and shame have no place together. Your sexuality is normal and there is nothing wrong or bad about loving who you want to love.

rainbow umbrella

7. Homophobia sucks.

Coming out to your parents can be a scary prospect. Add a dollop of homophobia on top and it’s downright petrifying. Bottom line is: homophobia sucks!

It sucks because we don’t choose our sexuality.

It sucks because we live in a society that places one sexuality as the norm at the expense of any other.

It sucks because life can be tough enough without experiencing ignorance and hatred towards something you are powerless over.

It sucks because your family might miss out on the chance of loving you because they can’t see past their own fears based on ignorance.

8. Talk to us.

Everyone’s experience is different so whether you are on the brink of doing it, have done it but are struggling or need support with it all, join our community to talk to one of our awesome mentors who understand completely what you are going through and get advice from others who have similar experiences…

9. Join your local LGB Community 🌈.

There is nothing more powerful than being around and supported by people who get what you are going through. Don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity to find belonging. We can’t choose our family but as life unfolds, we can choose our friends. You get to come home to the people who love you for you, regardless of sexuality.

So, if you are wondering how to tell your parents your gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual or transgender, that’s how to start. Your journey is just beginning. If you need any further help, you can join our free, anonymous community.

How do you overcome bullying by talking to the person bullying you?

Trust us, we know it may seem counter-intuitive to speak to somebody who is making your life a misery, but we have found that it can be a hugely successful strategy for resolving any issues with bullying and breakdowns in communication.

More often than not, somebody may not fully understand that what they are doing is genuinely having an impact on those around them and as such, talking can be the ultimate antidote.

Why do people bully? Top 4 reasons

Some of the most common reasons why people bully others include:

  • It’s used as a coping mechanism and response to something stressful going on in their lives
  • Because they are insecure and are trying to detract away from themselves by focusing on somebody else
  • They may be feeling jealous – instead of understanding this, they have become abusive
  • Because they are worried they won’t be accepted by their peers if they don’t do it

The reason you are being bullied is never because of something to do with you. Although they will often choose something about you and target that. It could be how you look, your skin colour, sexuality or a disability – the list is endless. Please try to remember that you have done nothing wrong and there is nothing you need to change.

We hope that this advice will help you to resolve your own issues; you’re almost guaranteed to resolve most conflicts and relationship breakdowns with the following steps, so even if you’re not being bullied – they are good life tips anyway.

What to say to somebody who is bullying you – 10 golden rules

1. Understand

The thing to remember about bullying is the fact that the people who are doing it are often incredibly vulnerable and it’s usually a cry for help to highlight that there is a bigger issue. It is therefore important to try and compassionately understand their reasoning and headspace.

Most of the time, it will be impossible to know without asking, what exactly is going on. There could be issues at home, or perhaps they are struggling with their own identity and confidence. They may not even tell you what the issue is, and that’s okay. Just know that people who are perfectly happy and confident will never go out of their way to bully somebody.

2. Evaluate

Sometimes it may be unsafe to speak to somebody who is bullying you, particularly if you feel it will put you or somebody else in immediate risk of harm. In this case, rule 3 is where it’s at. If you feel safe speaking to them, skip through to rule 4.

3. Mediate

Especially when the situation is more serious, it may be better to use a mediator. This is essentially when a third person (usually an adult, but not always) will facilitate a conversation between the person being bullied and the person doing the bullying to ensure that everything is managed properly and safely. Mediators are trained to ensure that both sides get to speak and will work to ensure that the issue is resolved. Mediators are available through some schools and colleges and in more serious cases, where a crime is involved, the police.

4. One-to-one

It’s always better to speak to somebody alone. Particularly if there is a ringleader in a group of people who seems to be leading the bullying. Often they will be doing it for positive reinforcement from their mates because they feel like their relationships are based on the condition that they behave in a certain way, so if you eliminate the rest of the group, you will have a very different dynamic.

5. Do it somewhere neutral

We know it may seem scary, but trust us, they will feel scared too. This is why it’s important that the conversation happens in a neutral space. I.e. somewhere where neither of you is attached, such as a public park or Starbucks. Plus, if there are other people around, it will likely make you feel safer and it will help you with rules 6 and 7…

6. Don’t shout. Ever

You’re angry and emotional, we get it, but it’s likely that they are also hurting, too. No issue is ever resolved through arguing. We each have our own individual ego and we like to think that we are always right, therefore it is only natural to defend yourself when somebody threatens your ego. If somebody is up in your face and aggressive, your natural instinct will usually be to defend yourself by shouting louder to get your point across. It doesn’t ever work. If you feel your anger levels increasing, take some time out and deep breaths. It might sound cliché but it does work.

Understand that it is normal to get angry and to want to shout, but right now it isn’t going to benefit you.

7. Don’t retaliate to shouting

This goes hand-in-hand with rule 6. It is possible that the other person will start shouting. If they do, stop talking and let them shout whatever they want to. Once they have finished, talk normally and calmly (we know how challenging this will be, but trust us). It will come as a shock because they will be expecting you to shout back at them. They will gradually start to lower their voice and you will maintain complete control over the situation.

8. Make it equal

For this to really work, both parties need to be equally involved in it. It will never work out in your favour if you lecture them on how you feel and how their behaviour is upsetting you. There’s a much better chance of resolving things if you encourage two-way conversation. Ask them how they are and ask if you have ever done anything to upset them. Listen to them as much as you talk to them, because, ultimately we all like to feel heard. This also branches out to the power balance which should always be equal. It isn’t about you telling them off and it isn’t about them intimidating you into submission.

Stand your ground when necessary, but also be prepared to step down when you have good reason to. The fact of the matter is, nobody, not even your parents/guardians (as much as they like to believe) are right 100% of the time. We all make mistakes and that’s okay.

9. Build an agenda

This will help you with rules 6-8 and it’s really easy to do. Whenever we have a meeting at Ditch the Label, we will usually write up an agenda of the things we want to talk about before we go into that meeting. This helps guide the meeting in the right direction and also means that we very rarely forget things that we were meant to talk about.

10. What is the end goal?

Are you doing it because you want an argument and want to alleviate stress, or are you doing it because you want to resolve the situation? Because they are very different things. You will, unfortunately, have to agree to disagree on things. It may even turn out that they have been annoyed at something you have done in the past but you think they are overreacting. That’s okay. If you want to add fuel to the fire and make things worse, argue it out and battle egos – but honestly, it won’t do you any justice.

Sometimes it is easier to sit back, listen and apologise for anything that you have done which may have upset them. It’s a good idea to start the conversation with something like “Thanks for meeting me today. I wanted to talk to you alone because I feel like there is a lot of tension between us and I would really love it if we could hopefully overcome any tensions together. Is that okay?”.

Never lose track of the end goal, even when things get heated. It may also be an idea to not accuse them of bullying you, instead tell them how their behaviour is having an impact on you. We all have a different definition of bullying and what it means to bully somebody and it’s likely they will become defensive if you start to call them a bully. Plus, nobody is ever a bully, it’s just a behaviour which can and does change.

In Summary

We know that it can be really scary when talking to somebody who is making your life a living hell, but the only thing worse is ignoring it and allowing yourself to feel so bad over a long period of time.

We use these rules in our own lives and can honestly say that at the end of the conversations, we usually come out feeling really positive and great. It’s a huge weight off your shoulders and you will always be surprised at what you will learn about the other person – you may have more in common than you may think.

If you’re being bullied and need to talk – join our community and speak with a digital mentor or other members of the community – together we can and will help you!

About Mental Health

Mental health describes everyone’s state of mental wellbeing. Essentially, it affects how we think, feel and behave – and having poor mental health or facing mental health difficulties can have an impact on the rest of our lives. On the other hand, have good mental health, and regularly taking steps to look after your mental wellbeing, can help you make the most of your potential and opportunities.

We all experience times when when we feel low or stressed; this is a natural part of life and for most people these feelings pass. For example, it is normal to feel anxious before a big exam or important event and this can actually help us feel more alert and perform better.

Sometimes however, our mental health can be negatively affected by large life events such as bereavement, illness or injury, pressure at school or work, other traumatic events or a lack of sleep to name only a few. In these situations, the anxiety and stress that you might have already been dealing with can develop into something a bit more serious such as depression, anxiety disorders, severe stress and other things.

Fast Facts About Mental Health

  • 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems each year
  • It can happen to anyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, age, family circumstances or socio-economic background
  • Our mental health does not always remain the same. It can change as our circumstances change in our life.
  • It is possible to recover, and lead a full and productive life
  • It is possible to lead a full life with a mental health difficulty
  • It is NOT a sign of weakness

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Opening Up About Mental Health

It can be really difficult for us to talk about our mental health. It is important to remember that if you don’t feel ready to talk about not being ok, then you don’t have to just yet. When you do feel ready, here are a few quick tips to remember before you do

  • Speak to someone you trust – whether it’s a friend, partner, parent, teacher, colleague, GP or counsellor.
  • Choose your timing – make sure you feel comfortable in the physical space you are in for the conversation, whether it’s a quiet cafe, a walk in the park or on your own sofa.
  • Remember it might be a lot for them to hear – this doesn’t mean they don’t understand or won’t be there for you in the long run, it just means they might need a moment to let it sink in and figure out how they can help you.
  • You don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to – there are plenty of other coping techniques that you can use before you are ready to address it with another person, which are listed under ‘Quick Things You Can Do To Help You Deal With It’.

Read more about this in our article ‘5 Tips on Opening Up To Someone About Your Past‘.

Talking to a Friend About Their Mental Health

As difficult as it can be to discuss our own mental health, it can be ever harder to open the conversation with someone else who we are worried about. However, starting to talk about this issue is a crucial step to helping someone who might need it. Some ideas on how to have that conversation are

  • Pick your moment – make sure you are choosing a time that is good for them as well as for you, and they are able to talk about it in depth with you for a while after you bring it up. Right before an exam, or an important date might not be the best idea.
  • Keep a guide on you – Before you talk about it, write down everything that is worrying you about it and have it with you in case you need to refer to a list so you can remember it all.
  • Understand they may not want to hear it right now – they might even lash out and be mean to you. That does not mean that you haven’t done the right thing, and it also doesn’t mean that you can no longer be friends with them, it might just mean they are not ready to hear it.
  • Keep it chill – this is a serious conversation. But having it in a relaxed way can help ease the other person into a conversation with you about it and get them to open up a little. Try going for a walk instead of sitting opposite them at the table. Walking side by side instead of looking them in the eye can create a more relaxed friendly environment for this to take place.
  • Remember they are still your friend – even though they might be acting differently, they are still the person you love.

Read more about this in our article ‘How to Talk to Your Friends About Mental Health

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Quick Things You Can Do To Help You Deal With It

Everyone is different. So the best way for everyone to deal with their own mental health is different too. There are loads of quick and easy things you can do to help ease symptoms in the short term before you are ready to get help, or if you aren’t feeling too great right now.

  • Be practical – write down all the things that are troubling you and then go through each individual point and see if there are any ways in which you could improve that situation.
  • Track your thoughts and feelings – keeping a record of how you feel each day, or in certain situations can help you keep track of the bigger picture. There are lots of different formats this can take – give this a read to find out how to do it.
  • Try to get more sleep – it might be easier said than done but improving your quality of sleep can be a great mood booster. Read this to find out how.
  • Try exercise – this releases natural chemicals in the body which lift your mood. Plus getting out in the fresh air for a long walk is a great way to give yourself a bit of mental space.
  • Chill out – try practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or breathing exercises. Making time to do this each night will help to bring some clarity to situations that might be stressing out and help you relax before bed.
  • Work it out on paper – try to come up with manageable plan to cover stressful periods like exams or job hunting by breaking everything down into much smaller, more manageable tasks. Sometimes, thinking about the sheer size of a situation can be enough to make us much worse.
  • Remind yourself of all the things you do well – there are things you always triumph at and trying to be mindful of that can be a big mood booster.

And Remember…

  • You are not a burden. Your loved ones care about you and will want to help
  • You cannot just ‘snap out of it’ – it takes help, support and time
  • Allow yourself not to be ‘perfect’ – many people with a mental health issue might set themselves extremely high standards and feel bad if they fail to meet them
  • YOU ARE NOT ALONE – 1 in 4 will face a mental health challenge at some point in their lives

Get Help

If you are feeling low for more than a few days, it is important that, when you feel ready, you ask for a bit of help. Confide in a trusted friend or family member and do not hesitate to visit your GP. You can discuss with them how you are feeling and any underlying issues you may have. They will be able to advise you on the treatments and therapies which may be available, as well as other things you can do at home that we haven’t even thought of!

You can also call the Samaritans on 116 123 if you need to talk to someone urgently. They are there 24 hours a day, every day.
In the USA, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
There is also more advice available from mental health experts at Mind.

Alternatively, talk to us. Our digital mentors are here to support you, but you can also support each other by starting a conversation about mental health in our community – its about time we started talking about mental health.

Just to say…

We have just given you a really quick run down here of what mental health is, what you can do to help others and yourself and how you can begin the conversation around mental health. This is absolutely not everything there is to be said on the subject – it is a BIG thing to cover, and everyone’s own mental health challenges are completely different from one another.

Nevertheless, we hope it might have helped shed a little light on the matter. You can give these articles a read for more detail on certain areas, and watch out on our blog for more!

Woman on phone in field

We all spend a ridiculous amount of time online. With the internet in your pocket, in school, at work and at home, it is impossible to escape it. That’s why being bullied online can be absolutely shit, and can make it feel impossible to live your life. We have put together this Ultimate Guide – so you can understand everything you need to know about cyberbullying and where you can get help if you need it. 

What Is Cyberbullying?

In our research, we found that 7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying in some form before they hit the age of 18. This is obviously a huge number of you. So first, let’s take a look at what cyberbullying actually is. 

We define cyberbullying as the following: 

“Cyberbullying is the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody.”

Anybody can suffer the effects of cyberbullying, regardless of age, gender, income or occupation. For example, the kind of harassment experienced by many celebrities and public figures on social media every day counts as cyberbullying, as well as nasty messages that work their way into your Whatsapp or the mean photos that no one will take down from Instagram. It all counts.  

If you have lived through or are living through cyberbullying, you know how crap it can make your life. That’s why the most important thing is to know how to deal with it effectively and what the law says about it. 


What Does The Law Say?

Though no laws specifically apply to cyberbullying alone, there are several laws which can be applied in cyberbullying cases:

  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
  • Malicious Communications Act 1988
  • Communications Act 2003
  • Breach of the Peace (Scotland)
  • Defamation Act 2013

In 2012 The Crown Prosecution Service published guidelines on how cyberbullying cases would be assessed against current laws, which you can find here.

On January 1st 2014 the Defamation Act 2013 came into order and can be read here.

Get the Facts

Want to know more? Have a read through our past research papers to get an idea of the stats around bullying, cyberbullying and other related issues from the last 5 years…


Social Media etc.

What Does it Look Like?

Cyberbullying on social media come in all shapes and sizes. Some examples include sending or posting threatening or abusive messages both publicly and in direct messages, hate speech and discrimination and offensive photo or video content. 

Reporting It

FACEBOOK

How to report and remove a post

  • On the post that you want to report/remove, click on the arrow icon in the top right-hand side and select I don’t like this post.
  • When the window pops open just click the appropriate reason for removing the post.
  • Then you are given the options on how to proceed. You are given plenty of options to choose from.
  • Once you have gone through this short process, you will have several options on how to proceed including blocking the person who made the original post and making a complaint to Facebook.

Blocking a User

  • You can still block users by going to their Facebook page. Once on their profile page go to the top right corner and click on the button to the right of the messages button.
  • You now have the option to report or block them.

Dealing with Abusive Messages

  • If you are using the chat box then click on the options logo in the right corner followed by Report as Spam or Abuse…
  • If you are in your inbox, select the message that you want to get rid of or report from the left-hand column by clicking on it.
  • Click on Actions at the top of your screen and select Report as Spam or Abuse…
  • Three options will appear so just click on the one that is appropriate.

TWITTER

Blocking a user through a Tweet

  • On the tweet that you want to block, click on the more (…) icon at the bottom of the Tweet and click Block.

Blocking a user through a profile

  • Go to the profile page of the user you want to block.
  • Click on the options icon next to the follow button and select block. You can also report users by completing these same steps.

INSTAGRAM

Reporting Content or a User

  • Click on the options arrow either on a post or the users profile and click report.

Online gaming 

What does it look like?

Our research found that 50% of you have experienced cyberbullying at least once when gaming online with other people. But, it is not always clear how to report it, or if there is even anything you can do about it. 

Bullying in an online game can include harassing someone or repeatedly targeting them, sending threatening or abusive messages in chat, or even having an offensive player name.

Reporting in an online game 

Every game and every publisher will have its own reporting method and this will vary. Usually, you can find the reporting method with a quick Google search, on the website of the game or publisher and in online forums. You can find out guide to bullying in Fortnite here


Report It To Us

Did you know you can report cyberbullying to us and we’ll get it sorted?


Get Help

Cyberbullying can be really tough to deal with. If you feel at any time you need support or advice on cyberbullying, or anything else that might be bothering you, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

how to cope with a family fallout

According to Ditch the Label research, those who bully are more likely to have experienced stressful and/or traumatic situations than those who do not. Homelife can have a major impact on our behaviour – we found that 36% of people who had previously bullied somebody, had experienced a significant family fall out. Learning to deal with difficult people is a considerable advantage in life, and can be valuable in any number of situations.

This time of year can be full of fun and festive get-togethers, but it also brings a double dose of ‘family time’ which often leads to tensions running high in the home. It’s not uncommon for family fallouts to take place over the holiday season, so here’s a tip or two on how to cope with a family fallout…

1. It’s not about you.

This can be especially difficult to believe when it comes to family fallouts as everything seems personal. But the truth is, it’s not about you. Mastering the art of not taking things personally is a lifelong journey, and the earlier you start the better. Start by reminding yourself that what people do and say about you is the product of who they are, not who you are.

“Mastering the art of not taking things personally is a lifelong journey”

2. Be direct.

If you decide to confront a difficult family member, be direct and true to yourself. Stick to the facts and use “I” statements, for example – “I feel sad when you don’t listen to me”, “I feel angry when you don’t let me finish what I was saying”, “I feel hurt by your behaviour”. Manipulative people are not known for their empathy and they will try and confuse you by telling you that you can’t feel a certain way because of a million different reasons. Please don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you your feelings aren’t valid. Your feelings are always valid and your goal is to be honest.

3. Look for the positive.

For some reason, human nature insists we pay more attention to the behaviour of difficult family members versus the ones we like and get along with. With family fallouts or stressful family events, it can make such a difference when we focus on those we feel safe to love and the positivity they bring into our lives. As a wise person once said “What we focus on grows”, so we can either get busy growing negativity or get busy growing positivity.

“Don’t let yourself become what you despise in others”

4. Lower your expectations.

Try to be realistic with your expectations of difficult family members. Remember, difficult people are notorious for their inability to self-reflect and admit when they’re wrong. So by not expecting more than they are capable of giving, we protect ourselves from hurt and disappointment.

5. Lead by example.

At the end of the day we can’t control anybody else’s behaviour but our own. When confronted with a family fallout it is incredibly easy to get caught up in the drama and judge people’s behaviour. We know hurt people hurt, so before responding from a place of hurt and anger think twice and check your own behaviour. Words to live by from Michelle Obama are; ‘When they go low, we go high.’ Don’t let yourself become what you despise in others.

Join our Community to talk to a digital mentor who can help you today.

Is it bullying?

The very fact that you’ve sought out this article to get some advice says that yes, it is definitely bullying and you’re definitely not overreacting. Emotional and mental bullying by parents is not uncommon and can take many forms…

For example:

  • Constantly commenting on your weight or appearance.
  • Emotionally blackmailing you into doing something or behaving a certain way
  • Repeatedly using demeaning or unkind language towards you
  • Telling you that you’re unwanted or useless
  • Saying that they don’t love you
  • Belittling you or humiliating you

These are all forms of emotional and verbal bullying, and many of them are also classed as abuse. You do not deserve this or have to put up with it, and you are not alone.

What can you do?

We are powerless over other people’s behaviour. Chances are, you won’t be able to make it stop. What you can do is cope with it in ways that minimise the impact of the abuse and protect your emotional wellbeing.

Here are a few things you can try:

  • Safe spaces – Establish a place that you can go to get away from it all. Whether that’s your bedroom, the garden, or a friend or relative’s house. It needs to be somewhere that is safe.
  • Try not to be manipulated – Parents who are bullying can sometimes make you feel like a burden. It is important to understand that you do not owe them anything. Try to gain some independence and in doing so, you empower yourself.
  • Strengthen other relationships – If you have a good relationship with another family members such as a sibling, aunt/uncle, or another parent then you should work on strengthening that relationship and building up a healthy level of trust. It doesn’t have to be family either; friends, neighbours and colleagues are good too.
  • In the heat of the moment, don’t engage – When it turns in to a heated argument and voices are raised, don’t respond. In doing so you completely disarm them. Simply remove yourself from the situation and seek out your safe space.
  • Understand that it won’t last forever – Soon enough, you’ll be able to move out, go to college/uni, begin full-time work and become fully independent. Hold on to that thought and put your all into your education and interests.
  • Note that you are not your parent’s problems – What we mean by this is that you should try not to let your parent’s problems affect your own life. It’s easy for us to be affected by things that happen in our home life, but remember that your parents don’t define your personality, you are your own person.
  • Seek out other support networks – family is often considered to be one of our main support networks but sometimes that just isn’t the case. There are so many other support networks out there full of people who truly care and want to help.
  • Speak to someone at school – Believe it or not, one of the amazing things about school and college, (aside from getting to hang with your BFFs every day) that many people don’t know is that there are trained professionals on hand to help you at any time, for free. They don’t necessarily have to be a teacher. You can talk to the person who works in the medical room, or reception, or head of year’s office or a school counsellor.

Talk it out:

First things first is to understand that you are not the reason that this is happening. Sure, the bullying may feel pretty personal when it happens, but understand that the problem always lies with them, not you. It is never your fault.

No matter how lonely you might feel right now, understand that you are not alone. This is, unfortunately, something that loads of people have been through and go through every day.

The best thing you can do is talk to someone about it. Tell someone who is a trusted adult or even a friend who is your own age. Whether it’s a teacher, another family member, a sports coach, a care worker or a mate. People need to know what you’re up against.

Finally, understand that we understand. Ditch the Label have digital mentors who can help you get through your problems. All you need to do is join the community to get advice. What’s more, is that you can also use this safe space to speak to other people who may have been through the same thing.

Join the Community

Here are some additional places you can contact to talk things out with professional adults who care about your wellbeing:

The Samaritans – 116 123 (24 hour crisis prevention service)

NSPL (USA) – 1-800-273-8255 (24 hour crisis prevention service)  

Childline – 0800 1111 (Working to stop child abuse)

Young Minds – Mental Health support for young people

Befrienders – Worldwide list of crisis lines 

If you are in physical danger, or experiencing physical abuse or bullying at home it is really important that you speak to a trusted adult about it. You can reach out to any of the organisations above or talk to Ditch the Label, you are not alone ❤️

If you would prefer the easy to read version please click here.

You’ve had a bad day and are feeling overwhelmed with emotion. You’re feeling low, afraid and like nobody understands you. You feel like you’re up against the world and need some sort of release. We understand how it feels to be in the situation you’re in right now, because many of us have been there too.

Self-harm is often used as a way of dealing with things when they become too overwhelming. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but self-harm can be incredibly dangerous and can have unintended consequences on your health and appearance and occasionally, leading to death. Trust us when we say this: it isn’t fun trying to hide the scars, the cuts or the bruises.

We understand that right now, it feels as though there’s no light at the end of your tunnel, but we promise that there is and things won’t always be like this. The below alternatives to dangerous acts of self-harm should be used as a short-term measure. It is important that you talk to somebody about how you are feeling and get the help you deserve. You can speak to somebody right now on the Ditch the Label Community and get anonymous help and advice or you could speak to a trusted adult offline.

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15 Safer Alternatives to Self-Harm

You are responsible for your own health and it is important that your actions do not cause distress, harm or damage to other people or things. We accept no liability for unfavourable outcomes as a result of this advice. If in doubt, we advise you speak to your GP or a trusted adult.

Our experts have put together a list of 15 safer ways to self-harm, many of which are proven to give the same release and effect as other means, but with much less risk.

1.) Snap a rubber band against your wrist

2.) Slap a hard surface – such as a wall or tabletop

3.) Find somewhere isolated and scream as loudly as you possibly can (alternatively do it into a cushion)

4.) Use a red marker pen to draw or write words on the place where you want to cut

5.) Squeeze ice in your hands really hard

6.) Squeeze the ‘pores’ in the skin of an orange / satsuma / clementine (take care to avoid getting juice in your eyes)

7.) Punch a cushion or punching bag – consider learning martial arts

8.) Find an old magazine or newspaper and tear it up

9.) Write down exactly how you are feeling in a diary – or if you’d prefer to, just scribble everything out

10.) Take part in high-intensity exercise; like circuit training, boxing, running or swimming

11.) Flatten aluminum cans for recycling – see how fast you can do it

12.) Take a cold bath

13.) Play music really loudly

14.) Try squeezing a stress ball

15.) Find a lake or ocean and throw stones into the water as hard and as far as you can

16.) Look after and be kind to yourself; it doesn’t have to be something active. You could try meditation, aromatherapy oil…

Ultimately, self-harm is not the answer to your problems, but doing the above things as a short-term measure could be safer ways of releasing emotion. It is important that you speak with somebody who is able to help you. Never feel like you have to go through this alone, because we are with you and are able to help. Click here to speak with somebody. If you are feeling suicidal in the UK – call The Samaritans on 116 123, they are there 24 hours a day, every day. In the USA – call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

A Parents Guide to Online Gaming

So, you’re getting hassled about online gaming: your child has started gaming or wants to start, they’re telling you ‘back off, I know what I’m doing, I’m sensible. I know the box says it’s for over 18s only but all my mates are playing it.’ Kids are now growing up in an ever digital world, sometimes so unfamiliar to you as a parent that keeping them safe online seems utterly daunting. The media will scream at you: Grooming! Violence! Strangers! Addiction! Sudden refusal to leave the game to use the toilet!

But, don’t freak out, at Ditch the Label we want to help parents be informed about the choices they make with their kids when it comes to life online. In this article, we take a look at gaming, whether your child is into online gaming or not, it’s likely someone they know is. With approximately 32.4m people playing games every year in the UK and now a £100 billion industry, gaming has become the largest form of entertainment across the globe.

Keeping your child safe when gaming:

Games have an age rating (similar to the one the movies use), this means the Video Standards Council Rating Board has deemed the game is only suitable for children over that age. Don’t ignore that rating, it’s telling you that there may be inappropriate content in that game for a younger child. BUT, we also understand how the world works and that parents and kids may want to make that judgement themselves. One of the best ways to see whether a game is suitable in your household is to try it out for yourself. Even if you are not a gamer, you will be able to find out whether it is suitable for your children before they play and whether it includes violence, sexual content or bad language. Make sure you critically analyse the game to see if it kid-friendly.

If you are unsure, why not play the game with them? You can sit beside them and discuss things happening in the game in a casual manual – it’s likely your child will enjoy that their parent is engaging in a hobby of theirs, either that or they’ll be howling with laughter at your lack of gaming ability (like that time you tried to do the floss in front of them).

What are the risks you need to look out for when you’re child is gaming?

  • Gaming with other people— Is the game single player or multiplayer? As in, is the game online and does it allow your child to communicate with others either through an in-built chat or another method? If it does, familiarise yourself with how that happens, can they talk to anyone during the game or do they need to accept a friend request? Have an open chat with your child about what’s safe, keep an open dialogue about who their gaming with and the risks involved to talking with people they don’t know online – it often will depend on how old your child is. If you think you’re child is too young, you can choose games that only have single player options (see below for some ideas)
  • Inappropriate language and content — often the media will focus on grooming as the biggest risk to children and young people when they’re online but perhaps a more instant risk is that they can see all sorts of unmoderated content – some of which will be inappropriate and can include things like swearing, racism, violence or sexual language and behaviour. Again you need to check out what the risks of this happening in the game itself and have a conversation with your child about what they might see and hear. Some games will have an in-built chat filter that will block anything inappropriate being said to your child through text chat, while others provide limited chat options such as “wow” and “hello”. Again, we don’t want you to freak out about these risks but make sure you are informed enough about the game itself to know what they are.
  • Bullying in gaming— anything online that allows people to talk to each other does, unfortunately, create an opportunity for cyberbullying and this is the same when it comes to gaming. This could come from people your child doesn’t know but also people they do. For more information about how to deal with cyberbullying, you can visit our cyberbullying hub.

*Not all games have in-built voice chat, some do, some don’t. However, both Xbox and PlayStation consoles allow for players to create a ‘party’ where voice chat is possible even in games that lack functionality – there is software on PC computers that also create this functionality.

 

Chat options in a screenshot – taken from Rocket League on the Xbox

How do games make their money? Microtransactions

While some games come with a retail price as they always have done, many games are now free to play and download onto your devices (known as F2P in the gaming industry), these games fund themselves through what is known as ‘microtransactions’ or a ‘season pass’. Micro transactions are typically cosmetic changes to the playable characters or game items that you can pay a small amount of real life money for, while a season pass is an unlockable ‘pass’ that allows the player to unlock time-limited exclusive items and cosmetics in-game for a one-time fee. If you have a card linked to the game being played or device your child is using they may not realising that it is actually costing real money or understand the consequences of doing so.

While multiplayer is always going to have an aspect of danger as you can’t control what other people do on the game – there are a group of games that provide safe spaces for your children to play. We have listed them below:

Mario Kart (Nintendo Switch, Wii U, 3DS)

A colourful racing game featuring a cast of characters from Mario games over the years. Although there are both single player and multiplayer options, there are no text chat or voice comms options.

Minecraft (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch, Mobile)

One of the biggest selling games of all time, Minecraft has become a cultural phenomenon over the past 9 years since it’s release in 2009. Primarily a game based on exploring, crafting and building, Minecraft enables both offline solo gameplay and multiplayer servers which emphasis on survival, adventures and battle. While the original game mode is extremely family-friendly, any additional servers or mods (custom levels, functionality or objects) need to be tried and tested by you before letting your kid play them.

If you want to learn more about Minecraft, minemum.com is a brilliant website for parents.

Terraria (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch, Mobile)

Similar in functionality to Minecraft, Terraria is the 2D cousin of the popular building game. With a greater emphasis on exploring, it allows for the same ‘create your own world and adventure feeling’ that Minecraft and toys such as LEGO in real life provide.

 

Poptropica

A free, MMORPG (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), with exploration, safe chat, quests, games, comics, what’s not to love? Poptropica has an optional subscription service where members get Early Access to new Islands and unlimited access to the Poptropica Store. Membership subscriptions renew automatically.

Wizard101

This adventure game is designed to be easy to learn and fun for all ages. Players are encouraged to participate in social activity. It’s a great form of entertainment for families. The £10 monthly subscription fees may seem bad on the surface, however, it is a good thing. Making people pay to play the game does keep trolls away, leaving this game troll free!

Fifa 18

This football game is one of very few AAA games that are online and very kid friendly. The best part about it is that it’s a great game that you can play with your children as it can be enjoyed by all ages.

FIFA

Rocket League

Another football game, kinda. This involves playing football in cars and is very child-friendly, due to the in-game chat putting a block on any bad language. This is also a game that can be enjoyable at all ages, which is a plus.

Pokemon

Pokemon is perfect. It teaches the values of friendship, money, loyalty and more. Newer Pokemn games have online features which allow you to trade and battle with people from all over the world. Pokemon has no bad language, blocking out anything resembling a swear word. It also has just the right amount of depth so that it can be a game franchise that they enjoy even into adulthood.

pokeball

Splatoon 2 (Nintendo Switch)

Splatoon is a team-based third-person shooter game in which the goal is to cover as much of the map in your team’s ink colour. Although Splatoon is limited to Nintendo Switch devices, it has become one of the biggest selling games on the Switch platform. While there are chat options these are limited to such terms such as “Booyah”, “This way”, and “Ouch”.

Single-player only games

While the above is a list of games that can be played online and offline, there are a number of single-player games that are offline (or only with friends and family in the same room as you). These include:

  • LEGO games such as LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Batman and LEGO Avengers
  • Stardew Valley – a game about building a farm, collecting resources and making friends with computer-controlled neighbours
  • Little Big Planet – now relatively old with the latest game being released in 2014, Little Big Planet is a puzzle-adventure game that can be played alone or with a friend
  • Rayman Legends
  • Mario Odyssey

Need some more advice? click here for more parenting tips.

coffee

Coming out to your parents as lesbian, gay or bisexual naturally brings up a lot of questions. How will they react? Will it change anything? Can I say it without getting upset? How should I say it? When is the best time?

Telling your parents is much bigger than them simply knowing your orientation. It is about you owning your sexuality and having the courage to say ‘this is who I am’ and not living in secret any more. If your parents are homophobic, you may want to check out this article instead.

Here are 9 Tips to help you get there:

1. First reactions are unpredictable.

When coming out to your parents whether they suspect anything or not, this is the first time they are hearing this news. You have had months or even years to come to a place of acceptance and being ready to share it. They only just found out so remember first reactions are not always lasting reactions and they will need time to process this information.

2. Determine whether this is the right time.

It is crucial that you take the time to consider your own personal circumstances when making the decision to come out to your parents. What might be the right thing for one person, may not be right for you. Your safety and wellbeing should always come first.

3. You don’t have to tell them both at the same time.

If there is one parent you are more nervous about telling, you don’t have to tell them together. Start with the parent you feel safer talking to. You’ll know if it’s best to tell them separately or together so trust your instincts.

4. Pick a good time and place.

This news deserves your parent’s full attention. So make sure you choose a time that won’t be interrupted and in a place that feels comfortable for you. You are in control of this situation and its key you feel as comfortable as possible. There may also never be “the perfect time,” and if there is one, you might lose your nerve and let the opportunity pass – that’s okay, don’t sweat it if that happens and try again.

5. Be clear about who they can tell.

This one can easily be overlooked as you will be so relieved at finally telling them, that its natural to forget to be clear what you want to happen next. Decide beforehand whether you are comfortable with them sharing this news with your family or if you want it kept between you for the time being – be clear about that.

6. Their approval or permission is not required.

Try not to expect too much from your parents and wherever possible, avoid measuring the success of the conversation by their initial response. If it’s not what you hoped for, don’t despair or give up. They may just need more time. This isn’t about them. It’s about you and who you truly are. Show them that you are the same person they’ve always loved, just more honest now.

7. Questions are ok.

One concern can be a barrage of questions, especially knowing the answers can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable. Don’t stress yourself out trying to think of every answer ahead of time. Questions from your parents are natural (but don’t feel pressured into answering things you aren’t comfortable with) and whether you have answers or not just be as honest as you can.

8. Help educate them. 🌈

Whatever reaction your parents have; good, bad or ugly, suggest they have a look at these organisations: FFLAG and BeLongTo;  They are dedicated to supporting parents of lesbian, gay or bisexual sons and daughters and have a wealth of resources nationwide. It will help educate them on all things LGB and give them the opportunity to speak to other parents for advice.

9. Talk to us.

Coming out to your parents is a big deal full stop. Even parents who have the best intentions will frequently get it wrong and say something unintentionally offensive and hurtful. Everyone’s experience is different so whether you are on the brink of doing it, have done it but are struggling or just need some support with it all, join our community to talk to one of our awesome mentors who understand completely what you are going through and get advice from others who have similar experiences…

If you would prefer the easy to read version please click here.

For many people, bullying is what shapes a large part of their experience in life as a teenager or young adult. Although there are many different types of bullying that some experience on a daily basis, this doesn’t make any one of them lesser than the others.

As part of our continued commitment to monitoring and evaluating the climate of bullying, we consistently find that approximately 1 in 2 teens experience some degree of bullying, with up to 7 in 10 experiencing cyberbullying.

Signs that a teen is being bullied:

  • Their moods. People who have been bullied will often have a sense of low-worth and this can be seen through their mood and attitude. They will often lose motivation for certain things and tasks that they might otherwise enjoy.
  • A loss in appetite. This ties in with a change in mood since we all know that when you are feeling low, the last thing that you probably want to do is eat. This can cause a large amount of problems if it is happening on a regular basis.
  • A desire for isolation. With people becoming more and more reliant on the internet and the things on it, the web can be a very dangerous place for young people. Through our research, we have found that there has been a rise in young people spending more time online, more time alone and less time spent outdoors and with family.
  • More time spent playing computer games. Although there is a large population of young people and even adults who playing video games, for some people, this is used as an escape so it may be a good idea to keep an eye on the amount of time spent on these platforms.
  • Time spent sleeping. Through this research we have also found that a noticeable percentage of young people will spend more time sleeping, it may be related to the wide world of video gaming but this could also result in them not wanting to wake up for school.
  • A decrease in time spent focusing on their studies and less time thinking about the future. The future is supposed to be an exciting prospect with things like university and careers around the corner so this could be a red flag in terms of suspecting that your child is being bullied.

How you can help them

  • Having an open and honest relationship with your child/children is the first step in being able to tackle bullying as they are more likely to open up about the subject, say what has been happening to them, who is doing the bullying and how they are feeling.
  • Understand that sometimes all young people need is someone to talk to, but if there is no one to turn toward, the years of a teen or young adult can be a very solitary place.
  • A large majority of young people that have experienced bullying have and probably never will tell anyone or report it through fear and a lack of faith that it will be taken seriously.
  • A step that can be taken is to speak to their teachers and ask for them to keep an eye out for any of the above signs as a lot of bullying happens in schools away from the safety of their own homes.
  • The ones being bullied need to be able to understand that there need not be an embarrassment or a stigma attached to what is or has happened to them and need to know that there are people close to them, organisations and teachers that they can turn to for help.

In addition to our advice above, we strongly recommend that parents and guardians familiarise themselves with our research reports for the latest trends and recommendations. You may view them here.

If your child or children require further support, they can find our anonymous community here: