Bullying is when someone is being repeatedly and intentionally subjected to the words or actions of another, feels hurt by those actions, and has a difficult time stopping what is happening.

Bullying can be physical, such as hitting, pushing, tripping, taking or damaging another person’s property. Not only is this bullying, but the person doing it can also potentially face a criminal charge such as battery, mob action or criminal damage.

Bullying can be emotional, such as name calling, laughing or making fun of someone, intimidating someone, starting rumors or telling lies about someone, or trying to make another person feel badly about themselves. 

There is also something called Cyberbullying. That’s when someone uses technology, such as the internet, a cell phone, email, social media, or pictures to hurt or harm someone else using those means. This can be done by sending hurtful or threatening text messages, posting unkind or untrue statements online, sending or posting pictures that are not yours to share, and even agreeing with someone who posts something hurtful.

Emotional or Cyberbullies can also potentially face criminal charges for such things as assault, disorderly conduct or harassment by electronic telecommunication.

The legal penalties for someone who bullies another for reasons such as race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religious beliefs, can be subject to much harsher penalties as these are considered hate crimes. The harshest of penalties can result if the person being bullied hurts themselves as a result of the bullies behavior or actions.

Bullying can happen to anyone and can only be defeated when others take action against it. Sometimes those who bully think it’s funny or makes them part of the “in crowd”. If no one else laughed or joined in, the person doing the bullying would likely stop, and even more so if others took a stand against it. If you see someone being bullied, tell them they do not deserve to be treated that way. Your support for one another can make all the difference. One or more speaking out against the behavior can mean one less person being bullied. Building a safe environment at school and in the community can only be accomplished if a culture of mutual respect and responsibility is cultivated. Tell someone and don’t just tolerate that type of climate in your school or community. If you are being bullied, reach out to a friend, a trusted adult, a teacher or a parent. Know that you are not alone. 

Treat Everyone with Respect

Nobody should be mean to others.

  • Stop and think before you say or do something that could hurt someone.
  • If you feel like being mean to someone, find something else to do. Play a game, watch TV, or talk to a friend.
  • Talk to an adult you trust. They can help you find ways to be nicer to others.
  • Keep in mind that everyone is different. Not better or worse. Just different.
  • If you think you have bullied someone in the past, apologize. Everyone feels better.

What to Do If You’re Bullied

There are things you can do if you are being bullied:

  • Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard.
  • If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away and stay away. Don’t fight back. Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot.

There are things you can do to stay safe in the future, too.

  • Talk to an adult you trust. Don’t keep your feelings inside. Telling someone can help you feel less alone. They can help you make a plan to stop the bullying.
  • Stay away from places where bullying happens.
  • Stay near adults and other kids. Most bullying happens when adults aren’t around.

Protect Yourself from Cyberbullying

Bullying does not always happen in person. Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that happens online or through text messages or emails. There are things you can do to protect yourself.

  • Always think about what you post. You never know what someone will forward. Being kind to others online will help to keep you safe. Do not share anything that could hurt or embarrass anyone.
  • Keep your password a secret from other kids. Even kids that seem like friends could give your password away or use it in ways you don’t want. Let your parents have your passwords.
  • Think about who sees what you post online. Complete strangers? Friends? Friends of friends? Privacy settings let you control who sees what.
  • Keep your parents in the loop. Tell them what you’re doing online and who you’re doing it with. Let them friend or follow you. Listen to what they have to say about what is and isn’t okay to do. They care about you and want you to be safe.
  • Talk to an adult you trust about any messages you get or things you see online that make you sad or scared. If it is cyberbullying, report it.

Stand Up for Others

When you see bullying, there are safe things you can do to make it stop.

  • Talk to a parent, teacher, or another adult you trust. Adults need to know when bad things happen so they can help.
  • Be kind to the kid being bullied. Show them that you care by trying to include them. Sit with them at lunch or on the bus, talk to them at school, or invite them to do something. Just hanging out with them will help them know they aren’t alone.

Not saying anything could make it worse for everyone. The kid who is bullying will think it is ok to keep treating others that way.

For more information or support, you can call the National Bullying Victim Helpline at 1-800-USA-KIDS (or 1-818-831-1234.)