It’s Anti-Bullying Week this week, but do we still need it?
Did you know that bullying is one of the biggest challenges facing people below the age of 18 right now? Yet there’s still a few myths that suggest it’s ‘just part of growing up’ or the rhetoric that tells those who experience bullying to ‘just ignore it’.
But in 2020, 1 in 4 young people have been bullied and this has increased by 25% since last year.
This week, in commendation of Anti-Bullying Week, we’re asking – do we still need it?
Here are 9 reasons why the answer is a massive yes.
1. Going through bullying can feel lonely, crappy and isolating
Anti-Bullying Week sends a clear and much needed message to anyone who is currently suffering at the hands of bullying: you are most certainly not alone. Whilst it feels lonely and dark sometimes, help is available. You can talk to us here.
2. Bullying is one of the biggest issue facing young people today
The latest Ditch the Label research finds that half of all teens in the UK have at some point experienced bullying, with a third being subjected to online abuse.
3. Because the impacts can’t be ignored
You think bullying is ‘just part of growing up’? How about depression, anxiety, suicide, self-harm and eating disorders? Are those things part of growing up too — because these are all very real impacts of bullying.
4. It’s literally impossible to ‘ignore it’
Telling people to ignore the abuse they receive sends a very clear message – withdraw from your emotions and allow the abuse to continue. It is literally impossible to not be impacted by persistent bullying.
5. The internet makes it easier than ever to be abusive
It’s no secret that the internet dehumanises us all and researchers have known for a long time that people find it easier to be abusive towards something that they consider to be less than human. Throw anonymity into the mix and there’s a perfect storm for online abuse.
6. Bullying isn’t old news
Contrary to popular belief, Bullying is not an outdated thing but in fact, it is a very current issue that loads of people are going through right now.
7. Anti-Bullying Week raises crucial awareness
By raising awareness of the catastrophic effects that bullying can have, we can help those most affected by it.
8. And provides a forum for those who need it
Talking about bullying can be tough and may feel embarrassing and Anti-Bullying Week provides a safe forum to talk about these issues. Don’t forget that we have the largest and only dedicated online support community for anybody who is affected by bullying. You can get involved here.
9. Anti-Bullying Week opens the door to talking about the root issues
Anti-Bullying Week allows us to raise awareness to the work we do with those who bully to become better, happier and more understanding people instead of villainising them. In doing so, we can overcome bullying all together.
If you’re currently going through bullying, please don’t suffer in silence. We can help you and we can help make it stop, so utilise us and please speak up. We’re here and we’ve got your back.
In our research, we found that almost half of us have experienced bullying at one point or another. Given what a high number of people that is, it is still very common to be on the receiving end of advice that although means well, isn’t always very helpful.
We also know that an alarmingly high number of us never report it and suffer in silence instead. If a friend or loved one does decide to open up to you and share what they are going through, sometimes it is hard to know how to appropriately respond.
With this mind we have compiled a list of things to avoid saying to them, as well as a helpful alternative:
1. Don’t say: ‘Ignore it’
This old chestnut can be very damaging. Being told to ignore something that is causing you stress and anxiety is not helpful. Ignoring the bullying unsurprisingly doesn’t actually work and saying something like this might stop them from sharing anything else in the future. This could have a serious effect on their mental health and lead to things such as depression, and more extreme outcomes.
Do say: ‘Let’s talk about it’
This is a way more helpful and compassionate response. Feeling like your voice is being heard is extremely important as it makes us feel less alone. It also lets us know that someone cares and is interested in what’s going on in our life, without looking to fix or dismiss the problem.
2. Don’t say: ‘It’s just a part of growing up’
Whilst experiencing bullying growing up is all too common, it does not mean you have to accept it as a rite of passage. Saying this also offers no advice on how to deal with the problem at hand.
Do say: ‘What’s been going on?’
This question gives the person the opportunity to talk honestly and openly if they wish to get what’s bothering them off of their chest.
3. Don’t say: ‘Stop being so sensitive’
This piece of advice is particularly harmful. It implies it is their reaction to the bullying that is the problem, and that if they were less ‘sensitive’ the issue would magically disappear. This is not the case. You also might embarrass them by referring to their reaction to the situation as ‘sensitive’ as it implies they are overreacting. This might stop them speaking up and seeking help in the future.
Do say: ‘It ok to feel upset/angry’ etc
You need to reassure them that whatever they are feeling is perfectly normal and natural. Try and make them understand that there is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings – all we really need to do is acknowledge them.
4. Don’t say: ‘Just stand up for yourself’
As a piece of advice, this doesn’t work for a few reasons. It can make the person feel powerless as they might not feel able to stand up for themselves or know how to go about standing up themselves. They might also be fearful of the consequences.
Do say:“I’m here for you, what do you want to do about it?”
This lets the person know you care and that you want to help them through this tough situation and most importantly, it is not their fault.
5. Don’t say: ‘Fight back’
Bullying isn’t always something you can meet with force as it can very easily spiral out of control. Often reacting in an aggressive manner can make the situation worse and can put them at risk of physical harm. If they feel it is a safe and appropriate action to take, maybe encourage them to try talking to the person who is doing the bullying.
Remind them to challenge the behaviour, not the person – so instead of accusing the person of being a ‘bully’, explain why their actions or words are causing distress.
For example, instead of saying “you’re upsetting me”, they could say “what you said/did has upset me”. It might be appropriate to suggest that a teacher or responsible adult hosts a mediation between them. A mediation can feel scary for those involved but is often incredibly powerful; it is essentially a face-to-face conversation between the person who is being bullied and the person doing the bullying in a controlled, equal environment.
Do say: ‘How can we deal with this together?’
Understandably it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when you are being attacked and therefore they might feel like they are facing the problem alone, with no one they can depend on for support.
Your friendship could make all the difference to them right now. Spend time with them, make sure they know they are not alone and try to do things that will boost their self-esteem and confidence. It’s important that they still look after their health and maintain a good diet, exercise and things like meditation and yoga. It is also important that you remember to look after yourself as well and don’t take too much on.
6. Don’t say: ‘Just avoid them’
By saying this, you are minimising and undermining the problem. It is also not realistic to think that these situations can be easily avoided. It is better to acknowledge what is happening and try to think of ways to combat or resolve the bullying.
Do say: ‘You don’t deserve to be treated like this’
Remind them that they deserve to be treated with respect. Often people who are bullied can feel like a ‘victim’ but it’s important that they don’t disempower themselves and let the bullying dictate who they are. They need to find ways to regain control, confidence and self-esteem – we have a great guide on how you can rebuild your self-esteem here.
Remind them as often as you can that they are worthy, in control and that things will get better. Head to our blog to read stories of how people have overcome similar situations and gone on to do great things, it will help reassure them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
7. Don’t say: ‘Telling someone will just make it worse, so don’t bother’
Almost 1 in 2 young people who experience bullying never tell anybody for this very reason. A mixture of embarrassment, fear and a lack of faith in the current support systems stops people reaching out. Please don’t encourage someone to suffer in silence.
Do say: ‘Talk to someone you trust.’
It can feel exposing and uncomfortable talking about our experiences of being bullied, that’s why talking to someone we trust can make a difference.
It is important they share with someone what they are going through – they shouldn’t go through something like this alone as it is extremely stressful, and can be emotionally draining to endure bullying.
This stress can have an impact on all areas of your life, including your mental well-being, ability to communicate with others, performance in school/work, self-esteem and confidence.
It is therefore incredibly important that they tell somebody they trust about what they are going through; it doesn’t even have to be an adult – it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. It is vital, during a traumatic time, that they have a support system and people who they can rely on when they are feeling low, or unable to cope.
Join the community to talk to digital mentors or other people who are going through bullying – you do not need to go through it alone anymore…
When I was first given the opportunity to write for Ditch the Label back in February, one of my first ideas was for an article like this. However, back then I had got it all wrong.
This September (two and a half weeks ago at the time of writing) I started Sixth Form at a brand new school, and it has completely refreshed my perspective on the friendships I had before.
You see, back in February, I wasn’t as happy as I thought. I was fine, on the whole–I did well at school, enjoyed studying all my GCSE subjects (and when I say this I am NOT counting Maths), had supportive, easy to talk to teachers and was, on the whole, doing pretty well.
However, no matter the learning environment provided by the school, or how engaging and supportive the teachers are, the one thing they cannot control, which is super important to any teenager in school, is who you sit with at lunch. This simple aspect of the day felt like it would then dictate who you hang out with at breaktime, and leave with after school, and gossip in lessons with. When you don’t have that, it can make school feel very isolating.
When I walked into the dining hall in Year 10, I would be unsure where my place was. At break time, I hung around the common room occasionally chiming into the conversation, but not feeling hugely wanted by people. In lessons I would studiously pay attention to the teacher, and I never seemed to have people to meet up with outside of school.
I don’t have trouble making friends–I formed solid friendships with students in the years above and below. It wasn’t that the other students were nasty to me either–in lessons, I got along with the other kids in my classes just fine, and was able to have friendly conversations and work well as a group. But I was never able to form a proper, lasting relationship with anyone in my year group. Contrary to everything I had heard about what secondary school was meant to be like, I hadn’t found my crowd.
When I had the idea of writing this in February, I got it all wrong. Back then, I wanted to write what was pretty much a step-by-step guide for other kids in this situation. I wanted to write something that would show me how I could get myself out of that situation, and to feel less alone. But now I realise that that sort of guide doesn’t, and can’t, exist.
The most important words of wisdom I can give for anyone who feels out of place, lonely, or like they just don’t fit in at school, is that you are not alone.
We are sold this idea of our school days being ‘the best days of our lives’, filled with stupid pranks, teenage parties and raucous days out. The truth is, that doesn’t happen for all of us. Some don’t want to, and that’s perfectly fine. But for those of us who do, we can sometimes get hooked on the idea of the ‘typical teenage experience’.
First of all, it’s worth noting that the way the world works for our generation is completely different to our parent’s generation–teenagers in our day have far more parental restriction than the generations before us, and the way we socialise nowadays is completely different to the days pre-social media. Now, we communicate primarily online, and there are fewer teenager-friendly spaces in our towns and cities.
Secondly, having spoken to several adults about my situation at school, I’ve gathered evidence that school never seems to be the best days of anyone’s lives. There are so many things that make being a teenager kind of suck – school pressures, strict teachers, not to mention the fact that almost nothing you can do is independent. The best is yet to come! You have so many more adventures and exciting experiences ahead of you, this is only the start of what will be a long and exciting life.
And most importantly, no matter what, you will eventually find your tribe. Some people find their crowd at sixth form. For most, from what I’ve heard, it’s at university or even later in adult life. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. You are still SO young, and have so much time to live your life the way you always dreamed. The point is, you will grow, you will learn, and you will find people you feel safe with. Friendships are really important and special, but most of the relationships you form will not be solely from the first 18 years of your life – it gets SO much better as you learn more about yourself and the environments you thrive most in.
And just remember, you are NOT the only one who feels this way. You are not alone if you feel like you can’t make any friends. It feels like everyone else fits in, but there are other people, just like you, who haven’t found their place yet. Let’s face it, school isn’t a hospitable place for most people regardless of how big your entourage is. If you haven’t found it yet, it’s just a sign that the best is still to come. It’s normal to not have any real friends while you’re in school, and to make them at university instead, or even much later in life. It’s perfectly normal and okay to just go through your teenage years, and come out at the other end, not having had any life-fulfilling experiences yet, but having emerged unharmed.
Above all, once you exit this page, I hope something you take away from this article is that your experience is just as valid as anyone else’s. Your time will come, and I promise you won’t always have to feel as lonely as you might do right now. Trust me, I speak from experience – the best is waiting for you very soon.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone about not fitting in at school, you can reach out to our Community here for confidential and free support and advice.
We delve into the reasons why people bully and are bullied, as well as asking important questions about things like relationships, gender, mental health and body image.
This groundbreaking research also takes a look at the nature of different types of bullying, the long terms effects that bullying has on people’s emotional well-being and how it’s changed over time. It’s pretty eye-opening stuff.
Bullying: The Facts…
So, here are our main findings from the last couple of years’ work in a nifty list of 21 things we bet you didn’t already know about bullying (pssst…if you did already know them, you probably heard it from us 😜).
Remember, if you are being bullied or you just have something you want to talk about, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.
1. More than half of people under 25 have experienced bullying at some point.
2. 20% of people surveyed, said that they often experienced verbal bullying.
3. 24% of young people are worried about getting abuse online
4. People with a physical disability, are unfortunately more likely to experience bullying than a person without a physical disability. #NotCool
5. 5% of people surveyed, said that they constantly experienced physical bullying.
6. Social exclusion is a form of bullying. That means, when your mates leave you out on purpose to hurt your feelings, they are indirectly bullying you.
7. More than a third of people go on to develop Social Anxiety and Depression as a direct result of bullying.
8. Almost a quarter of those who have been bullied have had suicidal thoughts.
9. Guys are more likely to bully someone than anyone else.
10. Those who bully are far more likely to have experienced stressful and traumatic situations in recent times.
11. Of those who bullied daily, 58% had experienced the death of a relative.
13. The #1 most common reason why people experience bullying is because of attitudes towards their appearance, with attitudes towards hobbies & interests and clothing coming in close at second and third place.
14. 69% of people have admitted to doing something abusive to another person online
15. 62% of people said they were bullied by a classmate
16. People who identify as LGBT+ are more likely to experience bullying.
Bullying is never, ever the fault of the person on the receiving end of it. Here’s why
What about Online?
17. 26% of people reported experiencing cyberbullying in the past 12-months. (2019)
18. More than a quarter of people have had suicidal thoughts as a result of cyberbullying.
19. 35% of people have sent a screenshot of someone’s status to laugh at in a group chat. #ShadyOnlineBehaviour
20. Almost two-thirds of people agreed that social networks don’t do enough to combat cyberbullying.
21. 44% of people under 25 said that ‘real-life’ means ‘only things that happen offline.’
And there you have it – 21 facts about bullying you probably never knew before.
The very fact that you’ve sought out this article to get some advice on your parents bullying you says that yes, it is definitely bullying and you’re definitely not overreacting.
Emotional and mental bullying by parents is not uncommon and can take many forms.
Constantly commenting on your weight or appearance.
Emotionally blackmailing you into doing something or behaving a certain way
Repeatedly using demeaning or unkind language towards you
Telling you that you’re unwanted or useless
Saying that they don’t love you
Belittling you or humiliating you
These are all forms of emotional and verbal bullying, and many of them are also classed as abuse. You do not deserve this or have to put up with it, and you are not alone.
What can you do?
We are powerless over other people’s behaviour. Chances are, you won’t be able to make it stop. What you can do is cope with it in ways that minimise the impact of the abuse and protect your emotional wellbeing.
Here are a few things you can try:
Safe spaces – Establish a place that you can go to get away from it all. Whether that’s your bedroom, the garden, or a friend or relative’s house. It needs to be somewhere that is safe.
Try not to be manipulated – Parents who are bullying can sometimes make you feel like a burden. It is important to understand that you do not owe them anything. Try to gain some independence and in doing so, you empower yourself.
Strengthen other relationships – If you have a good relationship with another family members such as a sibling, aunt/uncle, or another parent then you should work on strengthening that relationship and building up a healthy level of trust. It doesn’t have to be family either; friends, neighbours and colleagues are good too.
In the heat of the moment, don’t engage – When it turns in to a heated argument and voices are raised, don’t respond. In doing so you completely disarm them. Simply remove yourself from the situation and seek out your safe space.
Understand that it won’t last forever – Soon enough, you’ll be able to move out, go to college/uni, begin full-time work and become fully independent. Hold on to that thought and put your all into your education and interests.
Note that you are not your parent’s problems – What we mean by this is that you should try not to let your parent’s problems affect your own life. It’s easy for us to be affected by things that happen in our home life, but remember that your parents don’t define your personality, you are your own person.
Seek out other support networks – family is often considered to be one of our main support networks but sometimes that just isn’t the case. There are so many other support networks out there full of people who truly care and want to help.
Speak to someone at school – Believe it or not, one of the amazing things about school and college, (aside from getting to hang with your BFFs every day) that many people don’t know is that there are trained professionals on hand to help you at any time, for free. They don’t necessarily have to be a teacher. You can talk to the person who works in the medical room, or reception, or head of the year’s office or a school counsellor.
Talk it out:
First things first is to understand that you are not the reason that this is happening. Sure, the bullying from your parents may feel pretty personal when it happens, but understand that the problem always lies with them, not you. It is never your fault.
No matter how lonely you might feel right now, understand that you are not alone. This is, unfortunately, something that loads of people have been through and go through every day.
The best thing you can do is talk to someone about it. Tell someone who is a trusted adult or even a friend who is your own age. Whether it’s a teacher, another family member, a sports coach, a care worker or a mate. People need to know what you’re up against and you’ll feel better expressing it to somebody else.
Finally, understand that we understand. We’re here for you no matter what is happening.
At Ditch the Label, we have digital mentors who can help you get through your problems. All you need to do is join the community to get advice. What’s more, is that you can also use this safe space to speak to other people who may have been through the same thing.
If you are in physical danger, or experiencing physical abuse or bullying at home it is really important that you speak to a trusted adult about it. You can reach out to any of the organisations above or talk to Ditch the Label, you are not alone ❤️
If you would prefer the easy to read version please click here.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool once we know how to use it effectively. Dr Valerie Mason-John has some valuable tips to remember when you’re experiencing bullying in-the-moment and how to minimise its effects in the aftermath.
When you are mindful, you learn to breathe fully into the body, you learn to become aware of sensations in the body. You also become aware of your thinking and learn to love yourself.
Believe it or not, mindfulness can protect us from the effects bullying.
Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start, here are some tips to get you going:
Where to start with mindfulness
1. Be assertive with breath
Focus on your breathing to assert your boundary. You may have to walk away from people calling you horrible names, and this may feel unpleasant in your body, just keep on walking, breathe and know that it will pass.
2. Become aware of your alarm bell
If your breath becomes ragged, hands become sticky, your tummy gurgling, body shaking, teeth chattering, these are warning signs to tell you that you are feeling uncomfortable. Leave, remove yourself at the first possible moment. Remember to listen to your body when it’s telling you something’s not right.
If you miss the unpleasant feelings in the body you may hear yourself thinking strange thoughts. Again, remove yourself at the first possible moment. You don’t have to be the target of someone’s bullying behaviour. You could even try an app, such as Headspace, to help ease these thoughts.
4. Your phone
If you receive an unwanted text. Breathe, and report it. Gossiping about it and sharing it with others allows it to take up too much space in your mind and will make matters worse. Find out how you can be more mindful whilst on your phone here.
5. The home
If you are at risk at home, it can be hard to find an environment to be mindful. Tell a teacher, speak to Ditch the Label, ask for help, and keep on telling someone until they listen.
Learn to love yourself. When you practice mindfulness it will become easier to find the good in yourself. This will make it much harder for bullying to affect you in the long term.
Don’t let threats stop you from telling someone what’s going on. Threats make you feel horrible in the body; nervous and scared. This is normal. Sure, it’s unpleasant but all the more reason to speak up and report it.
Sometimes it seems like when you do speak up, it can make matters worse. Maybe you have received more threats since you told someone and it’s normal to be scared of the repercussions. Remember that it will pass. Don’t let the fear be a reason not to speak up – overcoming bullying is a process and it won’t stop overnight, be patient.
9. Become aware of your body
Remember to stand tall, this doesn’t mean you have to be physically tall or big. It means you need to breathe, be confident, take up your space, and try to be assertive. Understand that you don’t deserve to be treated badly and it is never your fault. Believe in yourself.
Dr Valerie Mason-John M.A (hon.doc) is one of the new leading African descent voices in the field of Mindfulness. She is also a performance Poet-activist. Hear her TEDx talk and visit her website www.valeriemason-john.com
Got any tips of your own?
Share them in our anonymous Community where people can really benefit from your help.
Bullying is something that can happen at any age, and overcoming it can be one of the hardest things to do. Bullying can make you feel alone, scared and worthless. In fact, more than a third of people go on to develop social anxiety and depression as a direct result of bullying.
“Just ignore it”, is what most people are told when they’re being bullied, or maybe “they’re only jealous” – but what use is that when you’re hurting and it’s making you feel bad about yourself?
“Tell a teacher” is sometimes good advice but what happens when your teachers don’t do anything? What if you’ve already told a teacher and it just got worse?
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back…
Top 10 tips for dealing with bullying
1. Understand the bullying
Bullying is a learnt behaviour. There are several reasons why people bully others; more often than not, bullying can be a coping mechanism for people who are going through a stressful or traumatic situation and it may also be learnt from abuse or prejudice-based attitudes at home.
Often people who bully others have at some point been bullied themselves or are currently being bullied.
Other reasons for bullying can include issues such as jealousy and insecurity – we know this because we work directly with people who bully so we can help them understand and overcome their negative behaviours. If you are being bullied, please know that you are NOT the problem.
If you are bullying somebody else, please speak up about it – get help on our Community here.
2. If you feel safe enough: speak to the person who is bullying you
Have you ever said something to a friend and upset them by accident? Chances are, it has probably happened loads of times. It’s a similar thing with bullying as the definition, by default is subjective – meaning that everybody has a different threshold of what they consider to be bullying. Sometimes, the person who is bullying you may genuinely have no idea that it is affecting you.
Equally, they are probably going through a difficult time themselves and will relate to how you’re feeling. This is why we have found that speaking to the person who is bullying you can be really effective. If this is something you’d consider, read this first.
3. Never go through it in silence
When you’re going through a stressful or difficult situation, it can clog your mind and fog your vision. This leads to people becoming distracted, stressed and unproductive. Bullying is something that affects so many people’s lives, but many people will never report it through embarrassment, fear or a lack of faith in support systems.
It is incredibly important that you go through the appropriate reporting channels by firstly telling a teacher/parent/guardian/learning mentor or another responsible adult. You can also contact us for advice and support. Even if you don’t want to report it, speak to somebody and don’t feel like you have to go through it alone because you don’t.
4. Is it a crime?
Bullying is a behaviour but some forms of bullying may also be a criminal offence. If somebody physically or sexually attacks you, steals from you or uses prejudice language or hate speech towards you (such as homophobia and racism) or shares your private information or intimate images online – these are all key signs that you should probably report it to the Police.
5. Don’t see yourself as the problem
The reason people experience bullying is not because of their sexuality, gender identity, race, appearance, disability or any other unique factor; it is because of the attitude towards the factor. The only thing possible to change is attitudes. The person who is bullying you is the one with the issue, not you.
6. Deal with stress
When you are going through a stressful situation, it can be difficult to deal with it objectively if you keep it all to yourself. The stress navigates towards the front of your mind and builds up into a completely avoidable chain of negative emotions. It is therefore incredibly important to tell somebody that you trust; it doesn’t even have to be an adult, it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. You deserve the help and support to get through this.
We have a really simple exercise available on our website called Stress Reprogramming which you can do either alone or with somebody else in around 30 minutes. The exercise will help you see stress differently and come up with a way forward.
7. Even though you may want to, don’t isolate yourself
Depriving yourself of any sort of support certainly isn’t going to resolve the issue or help you handle the bullying. We know it may feel like the best thing to do at the time, but it will only make things worse by silencing you and reducing your self-esteem. Often people who are bullied will understandably see themselves as victims, but it’s important that you look beyond that and don’t let the bullying dictate who you are. Talk about it to somebody at Ditch the Label.
8. Look after your health
We’re not going to go into the whole endorphin thing because you’ve probably heard it before – but seriously, eating a good, clean diet and exercising can really improve your physical and mental health and reduce stress. Reductions in stress increase your clarity, helping you break down difficult situations, making them much easier to deal with. Other things you can try include meditation, yoga, cooking, long walks, running and swimming.
We ALL have mental health, but why is it that everybody focuses more heavily on physical than mental? The fact of the matter is: we all have ups and downs and statistically, 1 in 4 of us will experience some sort of mental health complication such as depression or anxiety. It is completely okay to speak up about these issues and it is important that you seek emotional and mental health support from your GP, a therapist or counsellor. We have more advice on issues you may be facing available here.
9. Seek role models
When you’re going through your teen years, sometimes it can all seem like a bit of a black hole. It’s made even worse if you’re struggling with your identity or being bullied.
This is why it is important to seek out positive role models to show you that plenty of people have been where you are right now and have managed to overcome it. Read more stories and inspiring blogs here.
10. Lean on us
We are a leading global youth charity and we are here for you when you need us the most. If you need any help or guidance, join the community to chat anonymously with a digital mentor, or discuss what’s on your mind with others who’ve been there before!
Being shamed is not only a very real part of experiencing bullying behaviour, but it also a very real part of day-to-day life.
Shame can impact negatively on your well-being and self-esteem; it tells us that ‘we are bad’, that we should feel embarrassed of ourselves or a unique factor we might possess, that people have the right to judge us. Well, guess what? They don’t.
Here are 15 things we really need to stop shaming each other over.
In recent Ditch the Label research, appearance was cited as the number one aggressor of bullying, with 51% saying they were bullied because of attitudes towards how they look. We say, dress how you want to dress and be who you want to be!
2. Dress size.
‘Fat shaming’ is a relatively new term to describe something that has been going on for years, but size is nothing but a number! As long as you are happy and healthy nothing else matters.
3. Taste in music/film/food etc.
We all enjoy different things – it’s what makes the world go round! Whether you like listening to classical music or if watching The Real Housewives of Cheshire is your idea of a good night – that’s fine! Taste is totally subjective, so do what makes you happy and let others do the same.
4. Skin colour.
‘Too pale’, ‘too dark’, ‘too orange’, ‘too brown’ – who needs this kind of unwanted commentary or judgement? You have as much control over your DNA as you do the moon. All skin colours and tones are uniquely beautiful as they are different and that’s a good thing.
Not all people in relationships are happy and not all single people are unhappy! It’s time we acknowledged that being single doesn’t mean being alone. It also doesn’t mean there is something ‘wrong with you’.
There is so much pressure in society to find a partner – but there really is no rush! It’s much better that you take time to understand yourself and what you really want from life, before committing to another person.
‘Man up’, ‘grow a pair’, ‘stop acting like a girl’ are phrases commonly used to shame men out of expressing emotion. With this kind of suppression and stoicism firmly rooted in our culture, is it any surprise that male suicide is the biggest killer of young men today? We are literally shaming young men into suicide. We desperately need to step away from rigid, old-fashioned ideas of masculinity and move towards one that allows men to ask for help when they need it.
7. Slut shaming.
Slut shaming comes from the archaic belief that it’s not okay for females to enjoy or engage in a lot of sexual activity. Rather than shaming females who enjoy a healthy sex life, we should focus our energies on making sure consensual and safe sex is practised.
Your sexuality is another example of something you cannot control or change, but despite this fact, homophobia is still rife in many areas of society. Love is love! What does it matter who people date?
9. Mental health.
Even though it is 2019, Mental health still has a crippling stigma attached to it. Battling a mental illness can seem extremely daunting, but help and support is out there – so don’t ever feel too ashamed to seek it.
Mental health should be talked about as often and as openly as physical health – it makes no sense that an ailment of the mind should be considered more shameful than an ailment of the body.
How you decide to earn a living is your business entirely. There is great pressure on us to ‘succeed’ in society – and often that means financially succeed. However wealth is not a measure of ability or happiness, so we should not judge each other on such merits. Get to know the person before you ask them what it is they ‘do’.
11. Body hair.
To be hairy or not to be hairy? Well, that is entirely up to you – it’s your body after all! Society has conditioned us to see body hair as repulsive and something to be immediately removed, but in actual fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Whether you are as hairless as a Sphinx cat, or as furry as rabbit – if you like it, rock it!
Going against traditional expressions of femininity is often met with judgement in society today. Women are shamed into thinking that facial hair is wrong, or that having muscles is ‘manly’. A female celebrity caught without makeup is often slated in the media for not looking attractive enough. Women in managerial roles are often called ‘moody’ or ‘bossy’ – adjectives that would never be ascribed to males in their position.
Here at Ditch the Label we believe we need to give the concept of femininity room to evolve and grow into something far more accepting and liberating.
People who are living at either end of the spectrum are most vulnerable to this kind of shaming; those living in poverty and those who are wealthy. Both can experience damaging forms of snobbery, with judgement of the rich being inverted.
14. Living at home with your parents
Living at home with your mum and dad can be seen as a bit of a turn off once you are no longer a teen, but many people of all different ages and backgrounds at various points in their life decide to return to the family home – and some have never left in the first place! Whatever reason you might have for living at home (and there are many) it really is okay.
15. Social media
Social media might as well be called social judgement. How many followers do you have? How many likes do you get? How awesome and shiny does your life look? How many friends do you have? How many comments and retweets do you get?
It’s incredibly easy to feel the pangs of shame and judgement when scrolling through your news feed – and the most common place for it to come from, is actually ourselves.
We can feel shame when comparing our lives with other people’s, but we must remember that a profile will very rarely tell the full story of someone’s life.
So stop comparing, it really is the thief of all happiness!
This lesson explores the root causes of bullying behaviour and encourages students to reflect on why people feel the need to bully others. It pushes high ability students to consider potential methods of combating bullying through tackling the root causes.
This lesson asks students to examine their own online behaviours and understand the consequences of some of their actions. It allows them room to explore the subjectivity of cyberbullying behaviour and reinforces their responsibilities regarding their behaviour towards others online.
The resources are all completely free, digital and available for teachers across the country to download.
Anti-Bullying Week 2019
Anti-Bullying Week 2019 runs between Monday 11th November – Friday 15th November 2019.
Our research shows that 1 in 2 young people will, at some point, experience bullying. As a result, 1 in 3 will self-harm, grades will drop and 14% will develop eating disorders. Getting students engaged in activities, assemblies and lessons can be a really effective way to start conversations about bullying and the impact it can have.
We recommend a whole week of activities to generate school engagement around bullying.
Monday: Anti-Bullying Week Assembly
Tuesday: All students participate in The Annual Bullying Survey
Wednesday: Lunch-time fundraising activities
Thursday: PSHE lesson on Bullying
Friday: Tutor-time anti-bullying activity
The Annual Bullying Survey
Taking part in The Annual Bullying Survey makes for an ideal activity during Anti-Bullying Week.
It is the largest annual benchmark of bullying in the UK and each year, secondary schools, high schools and colleges from across the country take part, enabling us to better understand the dynamics and nature of bullying.
Students will need approximately 30 minutes to participate in the online survey, and we highly recommend that ALL your students take part.
As part of Anti-Bullying Week, many schools choose to run fundraising activities to fund vital support for those who are experiencing bullying. Or learn more about our flagship Anti-Bullying Week Fundraiser – Give It Up for Ditch the Label.
Here are 5 ways your school could get involved and raise money for Ditch the Label or download a printable version to use in your classroom this Anti-Bullying Week.
Go silent – give up your voice for the day in return for sponsorship. We know nearly 50% of young people who are bullied never tell anyone, not a teacher, not a parent, not a friend – everything you raise will help us reach more young people affected by bullying and give them back their voice.
Get active – organise a sports match & charge an entry fee. Football, netball, rugby, volleyball, whatever you like playing. You could even go for a staff v student match to for the ultimate grudge match! If everyone pays an entry fee it’s a really simple way to raise funds for Ditch the Label.
Go on a (digital) holiday – give up technology to raise sponsorship. At Ditch the Label, we’re all about the digital, but we know that a digital detox can sometimes give people a much-needed break from social media. Whether it’s for a day, or for a whole week, it’s a great way to raise money.
Hold a pop-up shop – refresh your wardrobe and raise money. Ask everyone to have a clear-out and donate their once loved items to a pop-up clothes shop. Give your favourite old clothes the chance to be loved again – and raise money for us in the process.
Keep it classic – the most common fundraisers can be the most successful. For example, a non-uniform day and a cake sale are really easy and simple ways to get your school involved in fundraising.
If you’re not looking for full lesson plans or assemblies, here are a selection of other activities which you could use this week.
1. Help students understand the hidden part of bullying (30 mins)
We know from our extensive work with young people that nobody is ever born with an intent to bully others. Bullying is often a behaviour that is used to cope with a traumatic and stressful situation – it could be that the student is having a difficult time at home or is being bullied themselves elsewhere. Those who bully tend to have low self-esteem and confidence issues and just want to be accepted. We would never call anybody a ‘bully’ because it certainly isn’t their identity, it is just a behaviour that needs to change.
We’ve produced an emotional video to encourage students to think differently about bullying and to build their understanding as to some common reasons why people bully. Start the activity by showing the video and follow it with a discussion about the key themes in the video, opening up to the bigger picture: exploring key reasons why people bully others. – Click here for the video – Click here for more reasons why people bully others
2. Use Ditch the Label statistics in a quiz (30 mins)
Each year, we produce some of the most comprehensive research papers surrounding the issue of bullying and related factors. This activity is designed to help students understand the landscape of bullying and to encourage them to speak up about issues that are bothering them.
The activity should take approximately 30 minutes, which includes a discussion of the results afterwards. – Click here for the question sheet – Click here for the answer sheet
Alternatively, you can direct your students to our research area, they can pick a research paper and create their own quiz based on the statistics in their chosen report.
3. Create a poster, using less than 140 characters (30 mins)
This activity works best in conjunction with a starter activity – such as the Ditch the Label Quiz, this is because it will equip students with a better understanding of bullying and will act as an icebreaker and will fuel inspiration. Students are given the task of designing a new anti-bullying poster for your school. The catch? They are not allowed to use more than 140 characters on their poster, so they need to choose their words wisely. This can be done either in pairs or as a group task.
This activity can also be run as a school/college-wide competition with the winning entry being produced and displayed around the school. – Examples of posters
4. Teach students to reprogram their stress (50 mins)
Stress is the number 1 killer and is something that troubles us all. We know that bullying massively increases the amount of stress young people face, which can go on to impact grade performance, health and general moods. We have developed a tool to help students rationalise and reduce stress in a simple, digestible way.
This task should be done in pairs only. Each person should need approximately 15-20 minutes to talk about things that are bothering them, and with the help of their partner – better rationalise and deal with those issues. With time to complete the entire task, introduction and evaluation afterwards – this task would typically take 50 minutes. – Click here to download instructions and the packs
5. Take part in The Annual Bullying Survey (20 mins)
Each year, we work with schools and colleges across the country to help them better understand the landscape and extent of bullying within their environment. We produce The Annual Bullying Survey, which is the most comprehensive annual benchmark of bullying in the UK.
The survey is conducted online and will survey students on their experiences of bullying, whilst exploring their wider social lives, experiences and attitudes. Taking part is completely free and it takes students approximately 20 minutes to complete the survey. – Click here to find out more information
6. Use role-play (30 mins)
This activity works particularly well in conjunction with activity 1 and could be used as a tool to further explore the reasons why people bully others.
Task students to work in small groups to role-play different bullying-related scenarios and then invite the rest of the class to give their feedback and advice on how to deal with the situations. Examples include:
Example 1: Student A is sending Student B abuse on Instagram. Student C sees the abuse but isn’t really sure what to do. The issue continues in school when Student A encourages Student C to say nasty things to Student B.
Example 2: Student A is having a difficult time at home – their parents are arguing a lot and their pet just passed away. In response, Student A feels angry and has nobody to talk to. They take their anger out on Student B and is disruptive in class. Student C, who is a friend of Student A witnesses everything. What could they do to help?
7. Create a list of top tips (30 mins)
This activity works particularly well in conjunction with activities 1 and 2. Ask students to work in pairs or small groups to come up with their top 10 tips on how to overcome bullying. Ask the students to share their tips with the rest of the class.
You will find that there will be a lot of repetition and overlap, so as the facilitator, note down the top 10 most commonly used tips and then use them to produce a classroom charter.
Join our Community
We have a growing online community where young people can anonymously log in and share their problems. On the Ditch the Label community there are opportunities for people to speak to and share advice amongst themselves as well as speaking directly with a trained digital mentor.
The service is absolutely free and operates as a judgement-free zone.
Why not spend the last 10 mins of your lesson encouraging your students to take a look around?
At Ditch the Label, we never call anybody a ‘bully’ because we don’t see bullying as an identity. Bullying is a behaviour and like all behaviours, there is a root cause and a remedy for change.
We need to compassionately understand the motives of people who bully, so we can work proactively to combat bullying with prevention. It’s time to say no to the villainization of those who bully others and reframe how we see bullying.
Here are 10 good reasons why we should ditch the ‘bully’ label and take a new approach to overcoming bullying:
1. It’s not what you are, it’s who you are
Bullying is a behaviour not an identity. By labelling someone a ‘bully’ you are basically saying that this behaviour is their defining quality.
2. You Never Know the Full Story
Bullying is a coping mechanism for difficult and stressful situations going on in someone’s life – you might think they look tough on the outside, but they’re probably suffering on the inside.
3. Family Stuff
According to our research, 1 in 3 people who bully on a daily basis said that they don’t feel as though their parents or carers have enough time to spend with them.
4. Lack of Support
People who bully are more likely to feel insecure in their relationships, meaning that they lack stability and support.
5. The Self Fulfilling Prophecy
By labelling someone a ‘bully’ it becomes a factor of their personality and they are more likely to fulfil this prophecy – it’s time to ditch that label!
6. Change is Now
It is never too late for someone to change. Ditch the Label can help you turn things around. If you need help, click here to talk to someone and make a change.
7. Hard times
People who bully are more likely to have experienced the death of a relative or a family breakup meaning that they are struggling to cope with their feelings in a healthy way.
8. Talk about it
Because the best way to deal with bullying is to talk to the person, not alienate them.
We are a product of our environment. Those who bully are more likely to deal with significant family fallouts and persistent arguing in the home.
10. Bullying Ends Here
If we help those who bully to make changes, we can eliminate bullying for everyone.
Change starts with you
We know what you’re thinking right now…. “So I have to be nice to the person who’s bullying me – WTF?!?!” Well, the long and short of it is…yes! Think twice before you call someone a bully. The real reasons why people bully are not as obvious as you might think and go much deeper than you can imagine…
Take guys for example. According to our research, guys are far more likely to bully than girls. You might think that’s a bit of a sweeping statement to make, but when you think about the societal pressures put upon guys to ‘act tough’, ‘don’t cry’ and ‘man up’, it’s no wonder they turn to violence and aggression to cope with their problems.
By encouraging people to talk about their problems, rather than bottling them up, we prevent our emotions from manifesting themselves in unhealthy ways. If you are bullying someone, read this.
Talk it out
You can talk to a digital mentor at Ditch the Label who will help you whether you’re being bullied or doing the bullying. Everyone is treated equally and absolutely no one will be judged.
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