The Lowdown
30 June 2022 • 7 min read

Bullying

Putting up with other people’s bad days (like a friend being rude when they’re annoyed with you) sucks – but it’s part of life. What’s not OK is when someone sets out to make your life miserable.

One boy is pulling another by the collar of his shirt aggressively. A girl is standing in front of them holding her phone, looking at a laughing emoji with a blank stare on her face.

Bullying is when someone repetitively and intentionally harms you, or goes out of their way to make sure you are unhappy. It comes in many different forms – physical, verbal, social and online– and is 100% NOT OK ever.

Sometimes bullying can be system and come from people in positions of power such as teachers, parents, people in authority at work etc. This is still not ok and you don’t have to accept it. Talk to someone you trust and ask them for support in dealing with this. Here are some links that can help you know what to do:

It’s important to know what bullying can look like:

  • Hurting your body by kicking, pushing, tripping, hitting or any other form of touching you that you don’t want.
  • Saying or writing mean things such as threats or hurtful comments
  • Spreading rumours or sharing personal information about you
  • Purposefully excluding you from groups or activities
  • Creating anonymous social media accounts to post mean things online or to troll people
  • Stealing or damaging people’s belongings
  • Humiliating or embarrassing you publicly

It can be hard to understand why someone chooses to bully, but there can be a lot going on in their own lives that is causing them to make these choices.

When a school finds out that someone is bullying, it doesn’t just mean that that person will be punished. It gives their teachers or school counsellor the chance to try and find out what’s going wrong for that person and give them the support they need to heal and do better.

It is also possible that your school won’t react in that way, or offer you the support that you need. Not all schools are proactive about bullying or support all students equally.

As a Rainbow, Māori or Pasifika person, depending on where you live, you may be more likely to experience bullying in school and your school may be less supportive of you if that happens. If this happens to you, you may need to look for support somewhere else.

If you trust that your parents or caregivers will be supportive of you, talk to them. If you don’t feel like you can have that conversation with them, talk to someone who you trust – maybe a member of your whānau or someone in the rainbow community who will understand what you’re experiencing.

No matter the reason, all bullying is hurtful and wrong. It’s not your fault and you are not responsible for how they are treating you.

Dealing with bullying can be tough, and it’s not about fighting back or sucking it up.

There is no simple solution to handling bullying but here are some things you can try:

  • Depending on how bad the bullying is (and only if you are in a safe position to do this) you might be able to try talking to the bully openly about how they’re making you feel. If one of your friends is bullying you, this might be enough to make them stop. It might help to practice this conversation with a friend and ask them to come with you for backup.
  • Speak up – tell someone you trust and report the bullying to an adult and/or to your school
  • Stay in a group of friends or ask a friend to pair up with you so that you’re not alone when moving around the school
  • Try some of these exercises to reduce your anxiety or frustration if they’ve upset you
  • Take up a new activity like martial arts that will help you feel more empowered or confident in yourself

If the bullying is happening online:

  • Take screenshots of everything
  • Talk to someone you trust about what is happening
  • Unfriend or block the person
  • Leave any group chats where the bullying is happening
  • Clean out your follower list – be ruthless!
  • Change your privacy settings on social media so that non-followers cannot see your profile or message you
  • If it’s important to you that your account stays public, take a break from social media for a while
  • Check out the link here for more information and support.

Many people at some point have experienced being bullied. It’s important to remember that it’s not your fault and there is no reason to feel ashamed. You’re not alone.

Even though we’re all different, everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Be kind to yourself! Remember that it’s never acceptable to watch or record someone else get bullied or be a bully yourself.

If you think you may have been bullying someone and you want to change, remember that it’s as simple as making a choice. You have the power to choose to no longer act in that way.

If you have decided to do better in how you treat someone but you know that you have hurt them –it can be a powerful thing for you both if you apologise and ask for their forgiveness. They may not choose to forgive you and that is their right, but your apology will help both of you move on.

If you’re finding it tough to change your behaviour, don’t give up. Ask someone you trust for support or speak to your school counsellor – they can give you advice and support.

Where to get help:

If you’re thinking about harming yourself or are having suicidal thoughts, call Lifeline on 0508 82 88 65 now to talk to someone who cares and can support you.

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