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What is bullying?

Bullying is defined as behaviour that is meant to be hurtful, that targets a person or group of people, that happens more than once, and embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied. Bullying can happen in person, but it can also happen out of sight or online. Bullying can take place inside the home or family setting, at school, at the workplace, or via social media.

Different types of bullying include:

Verbal/emotional: name calling or insults, threats, teasing, intimidation or stalking.

Physical: punching, kicking, or stealing and/or destroying someone else’s
property. Unwanted kissing or touching.

Social: being left out or ignored, having rumours spread about you.

Cyberbullying: hurting someone using technology, via email, chat rooms, text messages,
discussion groups, social media, instant messaging or websites.

How does bullying affect young people?

A World Health Organisation study of 40 developing countries showed that an average of 42% of boys and 37% of girls were exposed to bullying

Bullying can affect every part of a young person’s life, including relationships with their
friends and family. It can also affect their confidence and performance at school or at work. People who have experienced bullying are more likely to develop anxiety and depression, and are also at increased danger for self-harming behaviour, substance abuse, or suicide attempts.

The growing trend of cyberbullying has left many young people especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment from strangers online, and this can have devastating affects on  the affected youths mental and emotional health and wellbeing. It is important that bullying be taken seriously and young people be offered the mental health support they need in order to deal with negative behaviour from others.

Looking after yourself

If you are being bullied at school, at work, online, or some other capacity, it is important to remember that there are many people who can support you, including friends, teachers, family members,  managers or parents. Don’t be scared to open up and talk to someone whom you trust. Talking to someone about how you feel can be difficult at first, especially if it’s not something you are used to doing, but it is a good habit to get into. By talking about what is going on you can begin to understand how you are feeling, why you are feeling that way and what you can do about it.

You might not be able in a position where you can to stop the bully from doing hurtful things, but you can take control over how you respond to them and how you look after yourself. You might decide to do more things that you enjoy, focus on positive or helpful thoughts, spend time with friends who you trust, or exercise to cope better with the stress.

If the bullying is causing severe emotional and mental distress, and you think you may have developed depression, anxiety, self-harm, substance use or some other mental health problem as a result, always seek the help of a mental health professional. They will be able to make a medical diagnosis and advise a course of treatment, which could include medication and/or psychotherapy (talk therapy) depending on your individual needs.