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Bullying describes any behaviour that hurts someone else. Bullying behaviours can happen at school, at home or online and the behaviours can be repeated over long periods of time, hurting young people physically and emotionally.

Online bullying - using social networks, games and mobile devices - is known as cyberbullying. Young people can feel like there’s no escape because it can happen wherever they are and at any time of day or night.

There are many types of bullying, which can include:

  • Physical – pushing, poking, kicking, hitting, biting, pinching
  • Verbal – name calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, threats, teasing, belittling
  • Emotional – isolating others, tormenting, hiding belongings, threatening gestures, ridicule, humiliation, intimidating, excluding, manipulation and coercion
  • Online/cyber – posting on social media, sharing photos, sending nasty text messages, social exclusion


As a parent, you might notice some of the following issues:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothes or property
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness, particularly if associated with a particular time of day, day of the week or activity
  • Changed eating habits, loss of appetite, skipping meals or binge eating
  • Difficulty sleeping and/or nightmares
  • Reluctance to go to school
  • Not doing as well at school
  • Stealing or asking for money
  • Bullying others
  • Become anxious, withdrawn and clingy
  • They might turn to drugs and alcohol to help them manage their emotions

Young people who are bullied are more at risk of developing mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. Young people at the highest risk are those who are both bullied and who bully others.

Top tips for young people

  • It’s not your fault that you’re being bullied
  • It’s normal to be upset when you’re being bullied
  • It’s important to tell an adult you trust that you are being bullied so they can help you sort things out
  • Keep a record of any evidence: photos, texts, notes
  • Keep a diary of what happened and when
  • Do activities you like doing
  • Don’t spend time with people you don’t like or who make you feel bad
  • Be nice to other people

Top tips for parents

  • Don’t panic. Bullying is never pleasant but it’s important to establish the facts and reassure your child that you will deal with the problem together
  • Depending on age and appropriateness, always tell them what actions you’re taking
  • You might be tempted to tell them to retaliate but this can have unpredictable results
  • If it's happening in a school or social environment, discuss your issues with the teacher/leader
  • Get some advice (see our self-help and other support section)
  • Reassure them that they’ve done the right thing in telling you

You can contact your local School Nursing team to arrange to speak to your School Nurse for a confidential appointment (or see our self-help and other support section below for advice and further support from other organisations).

You might want to discuss the problem with the school, whether or not the bullying is associated with the school day, as the impact could still affect their concentration, focus and progress.

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