Have I bullied someone?
We can all show bullying behaviour. Most people grow out of it as they get older, but it can continue in social groups, families and the workplace.
Just because you’ve bullied someone, it doesn’t make you a bully for life. It means you behaved badly and hurt someone - say sorry if you can, and start making a positive change.
What is bullying?
Bullying behaviour is intended to hurt, is repeated, and involves an imbalance of power. This means the person doing the bullying feels they have some kind of power over the other person. It can be face to face or in the digital world.
Why are you doing it? Think about why you bullied someone. Is there something else going on in your life you need to address? Were you trying to prove something? Were you seeking friendship or approval from others? Were you feeling sad, angry or jealous? How could you have dealt with these feelings in a different way?
Do you have prejudicial views about people that are impacting your behaviour? You might have been told that it’s okay to laugh or hurt someone who is different from you (e.g. a disabled person, someone from a different country or faith background, someone from a different neighbourhood, someone from a different family background, someone who is a Gypsy or a Traveller, someone who is gay). This is not true and you may even be breaking the law. Stop, and seek help.
Am I joining in with bullying? Some people join in with bullying because they are afraid of being targeted themselves. You might be involved in a friendship group where bullying behaviour is going on. Our “Friendship and frenemies” page gives you tips about what you can do.
Am I feeling down, stressed or anxious? Feeling bad can sometimes make you lash out. Ask for help from someone you trust.
Am I getting revenge? Sometimes people who have been hurt or bullied themselves, end up bullying others. Don’t bully someone back just because they bullied you. Seek help to stop the situation.
How can I feel like I matter without bullying someone else? We can all find it hard to get our point across sometimes, and if we don’t feel heard or our needs aren’t being met we can resort to bullying behaviour. You mind find it helpful to read our tips on assertiveness to learn a new way of communicating (links to assertiveness page).
Whatever is going on in your life, you don’t need to go through this alone. Reach out to people you trust.
Making amends and moving forward
Apologise. Say sorry to the person you bullied. Be clear about what you did, and tell them you know it wasn’t right.
Don’t demand forgiveness. Your behaviour hurt someone, and it might be hard to regain their trust. Take their lead. Sometimes they might not want anything to do with you. Sometimes they might not want to spend much time with you. Sometimes, they might become your friend in time.
Ask for help. Your school has a duty to help make things right. Ask them for help with anything you feel you need to work on.
Spend time with people who are different from you. Sadly a lot of bullying behaviour is targeted at people for being ‘different’. Don’t get stuck in one social circle. You’re limiting your life experience and many potential friendships. Reach out to others who are different.
Manage your anger. If you’re feeling angry, take some time to calm yourself down before reacting. Remove yourself from the situation. Try this breathing exercise: count slowly to four as you breathe in. Count slowly to eight as you breathe out. Focus on the feelings in your body, and keep going until you feel calmer.