2020 has been a tough year. But before the lockdown, we asked over 13,000 teenagers in the UK about their experiences of bullying. The results proved that now more than ever, anti-bullying campaigning and bullying support are incredibly vital for the mental wellbeing of young people. There’s still a lot of work to be done, just take a look at these bullying facts.
1 in 4 young people have been bullied in the past year, up a further 25% from 2019.
Of those bullied, 30% were bullied at least once a week.
Of those who were bullied 86% were verbally abused, 54% were subjected to the spreading of rumours, 27% received online abuse and 24% were physically assaulted.
Nearly half felt they were bullied because of their appearance, 30% because of hobbies or interests, 24% for something they did, 22% subjected to homophobic abuse when they do not identify as LGBTQ+ and 17% because of the clothes they wore.
Only 31% don’t think the behaviour of politicians influences how people treat each other at school.
21% didn’t tell anyone, and 43% parents know little-to-nothing about what their child is going through.
Why does it matter?
Of those who were bullied, nearly half had increased anxiety, 36% felt depressed, 33% had suicidal thoughts, 27% self-harmed and 11% attempted suicide.
63% said they felt it had a moderate to extreme impact on their mental health and 51% felt it had a moderate to extreme impact on their studies.
42% of all young people have hidden or changed part of themselves to avoid being bullied
According to our latest research, 1 in 2 people have experienced bullying in some form in the last 12-months. And trust us when we say, we know how difficult it can be to go through it, especially if you don’t fully understand the psychology of bullying.
In this article, we will be exploring the reasons why people bully, using the latest research and psychology to give you a greater understanding of the motives of those who are either bullying you right now or who have done so in the past.
You may have assumed that you get bullied for whatever makes you different or unique, for example: your race, religion, culture, sexual or gender identity, line of work, fashion sense or weight. By the end of this article, you will know that this is not the case at all.
If you want to talk about it – join our community today to start a conversation about bullying and speak to our amazing digital mentors who can help you anonymously without judgement.
The Psychology of Being Bullied
We will explore the reasons why later on in this article, but most frequently, those who bully others are looking to gain a feeling of power, purpose and control over you.
The easiest way of doing this is to focus on something that is unique about you – either preying on or creating new insecurity with an intent to hurt you either physically or emotionally.
What happens is, we, as the people experiencing bullying, start to internalise it and we become self-critical. We want to understand the reasons why we are being targeted and we start to blame ourselves.
As a result, we try to change or mask that unique characteristic in order to avoid the bullying. We dye our hair, bleach our skin, date people we aren’t interested in and cover up our bodies like they are something to be ashamed of.
It starts to affect our behaviour and the ways in which we see ourselves, which in turn, can go on to impact both our mental and physical health.
The way we see bullying is all wrong. It isn’t because we are different in some way.
The Real Reasons Why People Bully Others
In a recent Ditch the Label study, we spoke to 7,347 people about bullying. We asked respondents to define bullying and then later asked if, based on their own definition, they had ever bullied anybody. 14% of our overall sample, so that’s 1,239 people, said yes. What we then did was something that had never been done on this scale before; we asked them intimate questions about their lives, exploring things like stress and trauma, home lives, relationships and how they feel about themselves.
In fact, we asked all 7,347 respondents the same questions and then compared the answers from those who had never bullied, those who had bullied at least once and those who bully others daily. This then gave us very strong, scientific and factual data to identify the real reasons why people bully others.
It also scientifically proves that the reason people get bullied is never, contrary to popular belief, because of the unique characteristics of the person experiencing the bullying. So, why do people bully?
Stress and Trauma:
Our data shows that those who bully are far more likely than average to have experienced a stressful or traumatic situation in the past 5 years. Examples include their parents/guardians splitting up, the death of a relative or the gaining of a little brother or sister.
It makes sense because we all respond to stress in very different ways. Some of us use positive behaviours, such as meditation, exercise and talking therapy – all designed to relieve the stress.
Others use negative behaviours such as bullying, violence and alcohol abuse, which temporarily mask the issues but usually make them worse in the long-term.
The research shows that some people simply do not know how to positively respond to stress and so default to bullying others as a coping mechanism.
66% of the people who had admitted to bullying somebody else were male. Take a minute to think about how guys are raised in our culture and compare that to the ways in which girls are raised. The moment a guy starts to show any sign of emotion, he’s told to man up and to stop being a girl.
For girls, it’s encouraged that they speak up about issues that affect them.
For guys, it’s discouraged and so they start to respond with aggressive behaviours, such as bullying, as a way of coping with issues that affect them. This is why guys are more likely than girls to physically attack somebody or to commit crimes. It isn’t something they are born with, it’s a learned behaviour that is actively taught by society using dysfunctional gender norms and roles.
In order to mask how they actually feel about themselves, some people who bully focus attention on someone else. They try to avoid any negative attention directed at them by deflecting. But know they might look in the mirror at home and hate the way they look.
There is so much pressure to live up to beauty and fitness standards that we are taught to compare ourselves to others, instead of embracing our own beauty.
They’ve Been Bullied:
Our research shows that those who have experienced bullying are twice as likely to go on and bully others. Maybe they were bullied as kids in the past, or maybe they are being bullied now.
Often it’s used as a defence mechanism and people tend to believe that by bullying others, they will become immune to being bullied themselves. In fact, it just becomes a vicious cycle of negative behaviours.
Difficult Home Life:
1 in 3 of those who bully people daily told us that they feel like their parents/guardians don’t have enough time to spend with them. They are more likely to come from larger families and are more likely to live with people other than their biological parents.
There are often feelings of rejection from the very people who should love them unconditionally. They are also much more likely to come from violent households with lots of arguments and hostility.
Low Access to Education:
Without access to education, hate-based conversation directed at others may be the norm. They may not understand what hate speech is and why speaking about people in a derogatory way is not appropriate.
Finally, those who bully are more likely to feel like their friendships and family relationships aren’t very secure. In order to keep friendships, they might be pressured by their peers to behave in a certain way.
They are more likely to feel like those who are closest to them make them do things that they don’t feel comfortable doing and aren’t very supportive or loving.
So there you have it, some of the most common reasons why people bully others.
If you are being bullied, it’s time to put the knowledge to the test. Carry on reading with our article on overcoming bullying. If you are doing the bullying, here are 7 things that you can do to overcome it.
If you are looking for more help – our community is a safe space to discuss your issues and get support from trained digital mentors who will help you without judgement.
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.
Hey guys, so did you know it’s Anti-Bullying Week this week? Well it is! And we have been working our socks off to research bullying all around the UK. This is the Annual Bullying Survey, and this year we’ve decided to do it on the theme of Pride and Prejudice. Basically, we wanted to look at all the reasons why people bully, including one thing called unconscious bias.
Unconscious bias is something that we all have, and it means that we all have this little things in our head that make it easy to make snap judgements about people, based on our environment, the media, what our friends and family think, and just general opinions we have all formed in our past. This might mean we find it easier to judge people for being overweight, looking different to us, race, gender or ethnicity.
Anyway, here’s a super speedy summary of the report. Also, before you read on – this blog post contains some stats that some people might find difficult to read. If at any time you feel like you need help, you can get one-to-one support from one of our trained Digital Mentors here.
So, guys, we have done a bit of digging with our partners over at Brandwatch. Well, actually, a lot of digging. We joined forces to analyse 10 million online posts over the past three and a half years to explore a really serious issue affecting hundreds of thousands of people every day: transphobia.
The issue is growing with every year that passes, so we wanted to better understand what is driving transphobic hate speech online so that we can evolve and develop the support that we offer, and lead the charge in the fight against it. Because of this, we think everyone should be a trans ally.
So, what did we find out? Well, here are some of the key stats and issues our research highlighted. Before you read on though, we know that this subject can be difficult for some to deal with, especially if you’ve been the subject of transphobic aggression or abuse, you can speak to one of our trained digital mentors in confidence here.
1) There were over 10,000,000 examples of transphobia in just 1,230 days
10 MILLION! Just let that sink in for a second. That’s three times the entire population of Los Angeles. That’s more than everyone who lives in London. Trans people have been constantly under attack for three years, and the numbers do not lie.
2) That’s an average of more than 8130 examples of abuse per day
Every day, 8130 social media posts or comments were posted attacking trans people and trans rights. This goes from acts of trans discrimination all the way to inciting murder and violence against trans people, simply because they are who they are and are living life as their authentic selves.
3) There are as many as 9 slurs against trans people that are used often
Basically this means there were nine insults constantly and repeatedly used when talking about trans people. The most common slur we found was the term ‘tranny’ or ‘trannies’, which was cited 1.2 million times, and accounted for 80% of the abuse that we found. Other terms were ‘Shemale’ at 156,000 times, ‘Gender-bender’ at 56,000 times, ‘transtrender’ at 32,000 times, ‘chicks with dicks’ at 26,000 times, ‘Heshe’ at 18,000 times, ‘Ladyboy’ at 6,000, ‘Shehe’ at 3,000 times and ‘trap’ at 450 times.
That’s a lot of abuse.
4) Global politics has a direct impact on the abuse
We all know that we live in times of a lot of polarised views. But political events like the Trump inauguration and Brexit saw a huge spike in anti-trans sentiment. Not only this, but policies that had a direct impact on trans rights such as the bathroom bills, the Trump military ban and Trump gender bill have all had a direct impact on the ability of trans people to go about their daily lives. If this wasn’t enough, it caused a huge increase in the number of anti-trans speech online.
5) Trans people, especially trans women of colour are a specific target
A huge amount of the abuse that we found was directed specifically towards trans women, and that number increased further still for trans women of colour.
It would be hard to have missed the fact that in the last three years, tran rights have been under attack in politics and in the public space. Since the Bathroom Bills, Trump’s military ban and the Gender Bill, the rights of trans people to simply make decisions and go about their daily lives have been under threat. Imagine having to deal with that, as well as all the online abuse that we have found.
7) Even Pride was taken over by transphobic abuse
In 2018, Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists took over the London Pride march to express their anger at the inclusion of trans issues in feminist discussion. As a result, anti-trans sentiment spiked in the UK, and more and more people started to voice negative ideas about trans people. It was Pride, a space that was supposed to be safe, to protest about equality, loving yourself, and to not repeat the past.
8) Acts of violence, and incitement of violence, are growing
A few months ago, the third trans woman of colour was found murdered in Dallas, Texas alone this year. The death of Chynal Lindsey only shows just how much more at risk trans people are of being injured or killed by violence, and for trans people of colour that risk is higher still. Our research found that transphobic violence was a common theme, which covered everything from threats, calls for violence, vandalism, terrorism, assault, sexual harrassment and more. This is not ok.
9) Being who you are is always the right thing to do
Here at the Ditch the Label, we think everyone has a fundamental right to be exactly who they are, free from prejudice and free from hate. Being who you are and living as your authentic is always the right thing to do. One more time for the people at the back.
Always. The. Right. Thing.
10) And we need to stop the hate
Obviously, lots of work needs to be done to address the growing problem of hate speech online. We want to help. Nobody should be subjected to any type of bullying in any space. Ever. Periodt.
Every year, Ditch the Label carry out extensive research into cyberbullying. We delve into the reasons why people cyberbully, the different types of cyberbullying, and the long terms effects that it has on people’s emotional well-being. Cyberbullying continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing young people online. It’s eye-opening stuff if we do say so ourselves.
Cyberbullying Facts in 2018
35% of people asked 12-20 frequently experience cyberbullying in the UK
37% developed depression as a result of cyberbullying
62% would be unlikely to intervene if they saw somebody cyberbullying somebody else
25% self-harmed because of cyberbullying
Only 29% said social media companies do enough to prevent cyberbullying
23% said cyberbullying is “just part of growing up”
35% of people sent a screenshot of someone’s status or photo to laugh at them in a group chat
46% of people we surveyed think “real life” only means things that happen offline
In 2017, we released the Annual Bullying Survey which looks at the impact bullying has on people aged 12-25 in the UK. The research looked into the online lives of people who took part in the survey and revealed that the majority of people believe ‘real life’ only counts as things that take place offline. What this study showed was that there are increasing amounts of people believing that what they say and do online aren’t having real-life effects.
Let’s break it down a bit… you would never tell someone you think they’re ‘ugly’ in a real-life setting because you wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings. But with 46% of people believing that real life doesn’t extend to online spaces, we’re seeing people say and do things online because they think it doesn’t have a real impact. It’s just too easy to forget that there’s a person operating a keyboard, behind a screen who has real-life feelings, just like everybody else.
Online vs Real Life
The assumption that online interaction is not ‘real life’ is why lots of people think its ok to be abusive on social media and other platforms such as online games. Too often, we’re seeing people say “It happened online, not in real life” meaning an insult doesn’t carry as much weight as it would if it was said out loud. Not to mention the increase in ‘troll’ accounts and profiles created solely for the purpose of abusing other people online.
The fact is, 41% of people go on to develop social anxiety IRL, as a result of online bullying. 37% of people who experienced cyberbullying in the last year experienced depression and 26% had suicidal thoughts. This is proof that things which take place online, have very real effectsthat carry over into life offline and have the potential to seriously affect our mental health.
Here are some shady online behaviours the people who we surveyed admitted to taking part in, we’re willing to bet that most people wouldn’t do these things IRL:
TALK TO US
Is someone giving you s*** online? We want to hear from you! The Ditch the Label Community is an online forum where you can talk about anything that’s bothering you. Get support from other community users or share some of your own wisdom with someone who could really do with the advice!
If you’re experiencing cyberbullying or online abuse, we can help. You can speak directly to a digital mentor or the phone, over email or through our support community:
We’ve been pretty busy this year gathering research about subjects that really matter. These projects provide all-important insights into various aspects of life for everyday people. If you want to find out about the latest stats on bullying, the true extent of in-game abuse or what people really think about makeup and mental health, read on amigos…
The Mental Health Report
Mental health is inevitably an issue that we at Ditch the Label are incredibly passionate about. Young people tell us every single day about some of the struggles they face and about the unique challenges posed by modern society and culture. One young person previously told us that living with the stigma of depression was often harder than living with the symptoms.
Ditch the Label teamed up with Sleek MakeUP to carry out some much-needed research into attitudes towards makeup and those who wear it. The Survey included 1084 people from aged 13+ from all over the UK. The report asked respondents about their makeup wearing habits, thoughts and feelings when wearing it and opinions towards others who wear it.
Thanks to this important piece of research, we now know that in-game abuse is more common than ever and sadly considered to be part of the everyday gaming experience. We’re looking forward to working with EA in 2018 to campaign for a better, more inclusive gaming experience for everyone. Gamers, watch this space!
Our ongoing research provides tangible evidence that we are making progress. The Ditch the Label Annual Bullying survey revealed that although things might be looking up, we still have a long way to go to eradicate bullying and reach true equality.
In the mainstream, sexuality is seen as a binary construct but our 2017 Valentine research proposes a new fluidity scale – as young people increasingly move away from labels. Our research of over 1,000 people also explores the impact of technology on modern relationships and the exploration of sexuality.
Ditch the Label has teamed up with Brandwatch to analyse 12.9 million conversations surrounding mental health in the UK across a period of four years.
Mental health is a topical subject right now with lots of conversation and debate taking place online; some of it positive, some of it negative.
The report looks at how mental health is being discussed online, bullying and mental health, stigma around and attitudes towards specific mental health conditions and the symptoms people are experiencing across the country. The research also found an indisputable link between bullying and self-harm and also found that the likelihood of developing eating disorders after being bullied was higher than expected.
Over 225,000 conversations about anxiety and depression also referred to bullying. This proves the harmful impacts that bullying has on the mental health of those who experience it and highlights the need for early intervention. Stigma towards mental illness is proven to stop people from accessing the support that they need. The report delves into attitudes towards mental illness conversations by analysing the tone surrounding it unveiling some interesting results.
So, what does the report say?
1. We now know that bullying is a measurable catalyst for mental health symptoms and is most strongly associated with eating disorders, anxiety and body image. For those with mental health conditions, bullying increases references of self-harm in online discussion by more than 600%.
2. Lack of emotional openness may be a barrier to accessing help. Negative attitudes towards mental health and emotional expression may prevent those experiencing bullying and mental health symptoms from accessing treatment. Interestingly, UK authors have more negative attitudes towards crying than their US counterparts,
3. 77% of authors with multiple or recurring risk symptoms do not describe accessing treatment. Barriers to accessing support were particularly high for body image (80%) and chronic fatigue (76%). Overall access to care was lower in the UK than in the US (23% compared with 33% in the US).
4. Men were more likely than women to use derogatory language when discussing mental health. Professional voices, including executives, politicians and health care professionals, were more likely to discuss mental health in more neutral or constructive ways.
5. Students and sports enthusiasts had the most negative attitudes towards emotional openness. Almost two-thirds of crying conversations by these groups were critical or pejorative in tone. By contrast, authors with an interest in the environment and animals used a significantly more compassionate tone.
6. Celebrities are driving the conversation. Stephen Fry and Richard Branson were key figures in sparking positive debate around mental health on twitter
7. The media was the biggest perceived cause of eating disorders. Comments such as “the presence of airbrushed and ‘perfect women’ in magazines” being referenced as a cause by many.
8. Anxiety and depression are more often considered to be the result of environment than a biological/neurological issue. Co-symptoms and lifestyle factors were each at least twice as prominent as ‘biological’ causes in conversations showing that many people still believe depression and anxiety are predominantly circumstantial.
9. Lack of awareness causes heightened BDD negativity. Body dysmorphia saw the largest shares of ‘anger’, ‘stress’, ‘struggling’ and ‘sad’ tones. Sufferers felt the condition was misunderstood and misrepresented in the media. Educators, health practitioners and journalists were all underrepresented, suggesting the need for further education.
10. Political events cause widespread sleep disruption. The EU referendum and the general election correlated significantly with sleep disruption in the UK. This disruption may cause ‘trigger events’, negatively impacting those with underlying symptoms.
Mental Health Research: What 12 Million Conversations Can Teach Us
Working with Brandwatch has given us a unique opportunity to analyse 12.9 million conversations surrounding mental health in the United Kingdom across a period of four years. We are jointly passionate about understanding the current climate and narrative of mental health and collectively will be using this research to influence culture – not just internally within our own organisations, but globally.
Ditch the Label teamed up with Sleek MakeUP to carry out some much needed research in to attitudes towards makeup and those who wear it. The Survey included 1084 people from aged 13+ from all over the UK. The report asked respondents about their makeup wearing habits, thoughts and feelings when wearing it and opinions towards others who wear it.
The Makeup Shaming Report is launched in conjunction with Sleek’s campaign My Face. My Rules. This research unveils some pretty interesting statistics about the nature of makeup shaming…
Here’s a snippet of what we found out…
27% of people feel judged for wearing makeup
48% of people agreed that makeup makes them feel attractive
45% agreed more men should wear makeup
50% of people agreed that makeup makes them feel confident
75% said that they think some women would look better if they wore less makeup
22% said they take women who wear lots of makeup less seriously
31% agreed wearing lots of makeup looks trashy
These stats are sure to raise some eyebrows…but don’t take our word for it! Read the full report below….
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