The Dos and Dont’s:

In our research, we found that almost half of us have experienced bullying at one point or another. Given what a high number of people that is, it is still very common to be on the receiving end of advice that although means well, isn’t always very helpful.

We also know that an alarmingly high number of us never report it and suffer in silence instead. If a friend or loved one does decide to open up to you and share what they are going through, sometimes it is hard to know how to appropriately respond.

With this mind we have compiled a list of things to avoid saying to them, as well as a helpful alternative:

1. Don’t say: ‘Ignore it’

This old chestnut can be very damaging. Being told to ignore something that is causing you stress and anxiety is not helpful. Ignoring the bullying unsurprisingly doesn’t actually work and saying something like this might stop them from sharing anything else in the future. This could have a serious effect on their mental health and lead to things such as depression, and more extreme outcomes.

Do say: ‘Let’s talk about it’

This is a way more helpful and compassionate response. Feeling like your voice is being heard is extremely important as it makes us feel less alone. It also lets us know that someone cares and is interested in what’s going on in our life, without looking to fix or dismiss the problem.


2. Don’t say: ‘It’s just a part of growing up’

Whilst experiencing bullying growing up is all too common, it does not mean you have to accept it as a rite of passage. Saying this also offers no advice on how to deal with the problem at hand.

Do say: ‘What’s been going on?’

This question gives the person the opportunity to talk honestly and openly if they wish to get what’s bothering them off of their chest.


3. Don’t say: ‘Stop being so sensitive’

This piece of advice is particularly harmful. It implies it is their reaction to the bullying that is the problem, and that if they were less ‘sensitive’ the issue would magically disappear. This is not the case. You also might embarrass them by referring to their reaction to the situation as ‘sensitive’ as it implies they are overreacting. This might stop them speaking up and seeking help in the future.

Do say: ‘It ok to feel upset/angry’ etc

You need to reassure them that whatever they are feeling is perfectly normal and natural. Try and make them understand that there is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings – all we really need to do is acknowledge them.


4. Don’t say: ‘Just stand up for yourself’

As a piece of advice, this doesn’t work for a few reasons. It can make the person feel powerless as they might not feel able to stand up for themselves or know how to go about standing up themselves. They might also be fearful of the consequences.

Do say: “I’m here for you, what do you want to do about it?”

This lets the person know you care and that you want to help them through this tough situation and most importantly, it is not their fault.


5. Don’t say: ‘Fight back’

Bullying isn’t always something you can meet with force as it can very easily spiral out of control. Often reacting in an aggressive manner can make the situation worse and can put them at risk of physical harm. If they feel it is a safe and appropriate action to take, maybe encourage them to try talking to the person who is doing the bullying.

Remind them to challenge the behaviour, not the person – so instead of accusing the person of being a ‘bully’, explain why their actions or words are causing distress.

For example, instead of saying “you’re upsetting me”, they could say “what you said/did has upset me”. It might be appropriate to suggest that a teacher or responsible adult hosts a mediation between them. A mediation can feel scary for those involved but is often incredibly powerful; it is essentially a face-to-face conversation between the person who is being bullied and the person doing the bullying in a controlled, equal environment.

Do say: ‘How can we deal with this together?’

Understandably it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when you are being attacked and therefore they might feel like they are facing the problem alone, with no one they can depend on for support.

Your friendship could make all the difference to them right now. Spend time with them, make sure they know they are not alone and try to do things that will boost their self-esteem and confidence. It’s important that they still look after their health and maintain a good diet, exercise and things like meditation and yoga. It is also important that you remember to look after yourself as well and don’t take too much on.

what to say to someone who is being bullied

6. Don’t say: ‘Just avoid them’

By saying this, you are minimising and undermining the problem. It is also not realistic to think that these situations can be easily avoided. It is better to acknowledge what is happening and try to think of ways to combat or resolve the bullying.

Do say: ‘You don’t deserve to be treated like this’

Remind them that they deserve to be treated with respect. Often people who are bullied can feel like a ‘victim’ but it’s important that they don’t disempower themselves and let the bullying dictate who they are. They need to find ways to regain control, confidence and self-esteem – we have a great guide on how you can rebuild your self-esteem here.

Remind them as often as you can that they are worthy, in control and that things will get better. Head to our blog to read stories of how people have overcome similar situations and gone on to do great things, it will help reassure them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


7. Don’t say: ‘Telling someone will just make it worse, so don’t bother’

Almost 1 in 2 young people who experience bullying never tell anybody for this very reason. A mixture of embarrassment, fear and a lack of faith in the current support systems stops people reaching out. Please don’t encourage someone to suffer in silence.

Do say: ‘Talk to someone you trust.’

It can feel exposing and uncomfortable talking about our experiences of being bullied, that’s why talking to someone we trust can make a difference.  

It is important they share with someone what they are going through – they shouldn’t go through something like this alone as it is extremely stressful, and can be emotionally draining to endure bullying.

This stress can have an impact on all areas of your life, including your mental well-being, ability to communicate with others, performance in school/work, self-esteem and confidence.

It is therefore incredibly important that they tell somebody they trust about what they are going through; it doesn’t even have to be an adult – it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. It is vital, during a traumatic time, that they have a support system and people who they can rely on when they are feeling low, or unable to cope.

Join the community to talk to digital mentors or other people who are going through bullying – you do not need to go through it alone anymore… 

Bullying is something that can happen at any age, and overcoming it can be one of the hardest things to do. Bullying can make you feel alone, scared and worthless. In fact, more than a third of people go on to develop social anxiety and depression as a direct result of bullying.

If you’re being bullied then you’re not the only one. In fact, almost half of us have at some point been bullied. As a leading global youth charity, we’re here to help you overcome bullying once and for all.

Are you being bullied?

“Just ignore it”, is what most people are told when they’re being bullied, or maybe “they’re only jealous” – but what use is that when you’re hurting and it’s making you feel bad about yourself?

“Tell a teacher” is sometimes good advice but what happens when your teachers don’t do anything? What if you’ve already told a teacher and it just got worse?

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back…

Top 10 tips for dealing with bullying

1. Understand the bullying

Bullying is a learnt behaviour. There are several reasons why people bully others; more often than not, bullying can be a coping mechanism for people who are going through a stressful or traumatic situation and it may also be learnt from abuse or prejudice-based attitudes at home.

Often people who bully others have at some point been bullied themselves or are currently being bullied.

Other reasons for bullying can include issues such as jealousy and insecurity – we know this because we work directly with people who bully so we can help them understand and overcome their negative behaviours. If you are being bullied, please know that you are NOT the problem.

If you are bullying somebody else, please speak up about it – get help on our Community here.

2. If you feel safe enough: speak to the person who is bullying you

Have you ever said something to a friend and upset them by accident? Chances are, it has probably happened loads of times. It’s a similar thing with bullying as the definition, by default is subjective – meaning that everybody has a different threshold of what they consider to be bullying. Sometimes, the person who is bullying you may genuinely have no idea that it is affecting you.

Equally, they are probably going through a difficult time themselves and will relate to how you’re feeling. This is why we have found that speaking to the person who is bullying you can be really effective. If this is something you’d consider, read this first.

3. Never go through it in silence

When you’re going through a stressful or difficult situation, it can clog your mind and fog your vision. This leads to people becoming distracted, stressed and unproductive. Bullying is something that affects so many people’s lives, but many people will never report it through embarrassment, fear or a lack of faith in support systems.

It is incredibly important that you go through the appropriate reporting channels by firstly telling a teacher/parent/guardian/learning mentor or another responsible adult. You can also contact us for advice and support. Even if you don’t want to report it, speak to somebody and don’t feel like you have to go through it alone because you don’t.

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4. Is it a crime?

Bullying is a behaviour but some forms of bullying may also be a criminal offence. If somebody physically or sexually attacks you, steals from you or uses prejudice language or hate speech towards you (such as homophobia and racism) or shares your private information or intimate images online – these are all key signs that you should probably report it to the Police.

5. Don’t see yourself as the problem

The reason people experience bullying is not because of their sexuality, gender identity, race, appearance, disability or any other unique factor; it is because of the attitude towards the factor. The only thing possible to change is attitudes. The person who is bullying you is the one with the issue, not you.

6. Deal with stress

When you are going through a stressful situation, it can be difficult to deal with it objectively if you keep it all to yourself. The stress navigates towards the front of your mind and builds up into a completely avoidable chain of negative emotions. It is therefore incredibly important to tell somebody that you trust; it doesn’t even have to be an adult, it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. You deserve the help and support to get through this.

We have a really simple exercise available on our website called Stress Reprogramming which you can do either alone or with somebody else in around 30 minutes. The exercise will help you see stress differently and come up with a way forward.

7. Even though you may want to, don’t isolate yourself

Depriving yourself of any sort of support certainly isn’t going to resolve the issue or help you handle the bullying. We know it may feel like the best thing to do at the time, but it will only make things worse by silencing you and reducing your self-esteem. Often people who are bullied will understandably see themselves as victims, but it’s important that you look beyond that and don’t let the bullying dictate who you are. Talk about it to somebody at Ditch the Label.

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8. Look after your health

We’re not going to go into the whole endorphin thing because you’ve probably heard it before – but seriously, eating a good, clean diet and exercising can really improve your physical and mental health and reduce stress. Reductions in stress increase your clarity, helping you break down difficult situations, making them much easier to deal with. Other things you can try include meditation, yoga, cooking, long walks, running and swimming.

We ALL have mental health, but why is it that everybody focuses more heavily on physical than mental? The fact of the matter is: we all have ups and downs and statistically, 1 in 4 of us will experience some sort of mental health complication such as depression or anxiety. It is completely okay to speak up about these issues and it is important that you seek emotional and mental health support from your GP, a therapist or counsellor. We have more advice on issues you may be facing available here.

9. Seek role models

When you’re going through your teen years, sometimes it can all seem like a bit of a black hole. It’s made even worse if you’re struggling with your identity or being bullied.

This is why it is important to seek out positive role models to show you that plenty of people have been where you are right now and have managed to overcome it. Read more stories and inspiring blogs here.

10. Lean on us

We are a leading global youth charity and we are here for you when you need us the most. If you need any help or guidance, join the community to chat anonymously with a digital mentor, or discuss what’s on your mind with others who’ve been there before!

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Are you dealing with cyberbullying?

If you are being cyberbullied, read our top 9 tips on overcoming cyberbullying for advice on what to do and how to deal with it.

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!

You Are Not Alone

If you are being bullied, it’s really important that you tell someone… we know, easier said than done right!? But whoever said that telling the teacher or your parents is ‘snitching’, is talking nonsense. Don’t listen to them.

According to research collected in the 2017 Annual Bullying Survey, 37% of those surveyed, never told anyone about the bullying.

How to report bullying

Too many people suffer in silence. The single most proactive thing you can do to protect yourself is report the bullying – true story. The best way to be taken seriously is to speak directly. Be concise and clear about what’s happened and how you want it to be dealt with.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered – here are some things you should know about how to report bullying whether it’s at school, work or anywhere else:

Start by telling a mate…

How to report bullying

So, the first step is to tell a mate what’s been happening. Whether it’s a schoolmate, a friendly co-worker or someone you know from somewhere else, when you share your problems they instantly become less scary. You don’t have to expect your mate to do anything about it, but at least they are there to lend an ear or a shoulder if needs be.

Next up is a big one but DW, we’ll walk you through it…

Parents

Having that conversation is a tough one but it needs to happen. In telling your parents, you are taking positive steps to getting things resolved. At this point, you have to trust your parents to take action in a responsible and tactful way. When telling parents or school, always have examples ready by keeping a log of related events that have taken place. Once you have in your head what you want to say, pick a time and a place that suits you best and you’re good to go.

How to report bullying

It’s likely that your parents will then talk to the school about it. You can help them in doing this in the right way by asking them to stay calm, keep you included and by following the procedures of the school – this makes things easier for everyone.

School

How to report bullying

If speaking to your parents is not an option, which for many people it isn’t, you can speak to your school. The school probably have the most power in a bullying situation to help make it stop. Start by speaking to your favorite teacher, or the one who you find most approachable. Explain what’s been happening with specific examples of events that have taken place, and how they have made you feel. Next, explain the effects it has had on you and what you want to happen next. Be as clear as you can, and come armed with examples.

One of the best things about school that many people don’t realise is that you have access to a whole bunch of free services such as counselling, pastoral care and trained mentors who are on hand to help you with these exact situations.

Here are just a few examples of who you can approach within most schools:

  • Your form tutor or equivalent
  • Your head of year/house
  • The Headteacher
  • The School Nurse
  • The School Inclusion Officer
  • Any member of support staff
  • PSHE teachers are often really good to talk to if you’re being discriminated against
  • Head students and the Senior Student Team within the school often have involvement in anti-bullying initiatives
  • The Student Body – if there is one in your school.
  • Your favourite or most trusted teacher – it’s good to speak to teachers that you already have a good relationship with. For example, a teacher who has helped you in the past or whose lessons you really enjoy.

Tell Ditch the Label

We’re not just saying this because we are Ditch the Label, but talking to us is as easy as can be. Did you know that you can speak to an actual person from Ditch the Label about your problems? All you have to do is sign up to community, create a username (doesn’t have to be your real name) which gives you the option of anonymity if you want it, and post your problem in community.

Thousands of people benefit from our help every week and it also really makes a difference talking things out with other people who have had similar issues in the past. Try it, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to write your problems down, knowing that you can say what you want. There will be no judgement, only positivity and real life, practical advice.

You can also report cyberbullying to us through our reporting tool – we’ll try and get the content removed within 48 hours.

The Police

This can be an uncomfortable one but if there is a crime involved, make sure you contact the police.

It doesn’t have to be you who reports it, you can tell an adult who will report it for you, but it is very important that you do. By reporting a crime, you are helping to prevent it from happening to someone else, as well as protecting yourself. If it is a hate crime, it is very important that you report it – for more info on hate crime, read this.