What is bullying?

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Bullying is the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. It can happen face-to-face or through cyberspace, and comes in many different forms:

Verbal: Name calling, persistent teasing, mocking, taunting and threats. 

Physical: Any form of physical violence, intimidating behaviour, theft or the intentional damage of possessions. This includes hitting, kicking and pushing.

Emotional: Excluding, tormenting, ridiculing, humiliation, setting people up and spreading rumours.

Cyber: Cyber bullying is the misuse of digital technologies or communications to bully a person or a group, typically through messages or actions that are threatening and/or intended to cause offence, anxiety or humiliation.

Who gets bullied?

Children and young people can be targeted for any reason, but in our experience bullying is often: 

Racist: Bullying based on ethnicity, skin colour, language, religious or cultural practices.

Homophobic: Discrimination based on sexuality and/or gender identity.

Sexual: Unwelcome sexual advances or remarks that are intended to cause offence, humiliation or intimidation. This could include pressure to send images of a sexual nature.

Disabilist: The bullying of children who have special educational needs and disabilities.

Based on 'difference': Bullying based on any real or perceived difference. This can include, but is not limited to factors surrounding the way someone looks or dresses, hobbies and interests, family set up, social behaviour. 

What is NOT bullying

One-off incidents: Bullying is persistent and repetitive, and generally fits a pattern of behaviour. However, there will be occasions when a one-off incident is so significant that it causes long term effects, and is therefore categorised as bullying. One example may be extreme public humiliation that deters someone from engaging in discussions or social events.

Mutual conflict: A disagreement, argument or fight in which both parties have equally participated and where there is no imbalance of power.

Related advice

For parents

Supporting a bullied child
Reporting to the school
What is cyber bullying?

For young people

Dealing with bullying
Where can I get help? 
How to respond to bullies

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