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How to tackle bullying

Schools, youth clubs and community groups can book the award winning Anti Bullying Roadshow for a fun, energised and amazing way to tackle bullying.

Free anti-bullying ideas can be found atThe Anti Bullying Week site

Tie Tours has developed three exciting and thought-provoking anti-bullying plays - Silent Scream , Breakthrough and Disadvantage, for children and for adults. These shows can be combined with workshops that explore issues brought up in the plays; why some people get bullied and others don't, why some people appear as victims, what makes someone into a bully and what solutions are available to us. Participants are taken through a series of games, exercises, role-play and improvisation. These programmes are great fun, innovative and educational.

Tie Tours has produced a report titledWhat is the best way to stop bullying? Click on the highlighted area to read a large chunk of it. Bound copies of the full version may be purchased fromTie Tours

There is no easy solution to combating bullying and some people will find it more difficult than others. Bullying can take many different forms; verbal and physical, solitary or in gangs, from peers, family, teachers and so on. It can happen anywhere and to anyone. There appears to be a consensus with the vast majority of young and old people alike; that if you are being bullied then do not stay quiet about it. Talk to people you can trust, talk to people who will listen.

Childline have put together a pack called 'Bullying and how to beat it'. The following are extracts from the Childline pack and a leaflet put together by 'My Guy Magazine', 'MIZZ' and 'Radio 1'.

The number for Childline is: 0800 1111 (UK Only)

What is bullying?

Around ten young people commit suicide every year in the UK because they're victims of bullying. One in ten pupils at secondary school are bullied more than once or twice in any one term. Childline's special Bullying Line received more than 45,000 calls in 1996. Girls are twice as likely to call Childline because of bullying problems than boys. Research shows that boys are likely to use violence when they bully. Girls often use more subtle tactics.

Peer pressure bullies

  1. They're scared. There are always bullies who roam around in gangs and there are always those on the sidelines who do lots of dirty work for the ringleader. They're probably being bullied too, because they don't want to stand up to the bully for fear of being singled out for attention. In other words, being just as nasty as their 'friend' makes for an easier life.
  2. Do they mean any harm? They may seem uncomfortable with what other members of the group are doing and may even try to apologise to their victims when the main bullies are not around.

Insecure bullies

  1. They put on a show. When you're not sure whether people like you, the temptation's there to show off a bit. Some people try to be funny, others may wear their best clothes to school, but there are always those who bully because they think it'll make them look impressive.
  2. They're sarcastic and cruel. Insecure people want to make their friends look up and take notice, so intimidating other people is an easy way to go about it. They'll pick on those least likely to answer back or pose any threat and probably stick to making cruel jokes at their victim's expense.
  3. They're looking for approval. They're desperate for the go-ahead from their mates, so will always be looking to them for a reaction to everything they do. If there's no audience around they'll probably leave you alone.

Bullies with their own problems

  1. They're in trouble at school. Lots of bullies are involved in a spot of bother when it comes to other areas of their school lives. The people they pick on act as a sort of diversion or something to take their minds off other problems or maybe they just have a hard reputation they want to live up to.
  2. They're used to bullying. Older brothers and sisters and parents may have been violent or nasty towards them all their lives, and to them it's natural to get rid of their own anger by taking it out on others.
  3. They don't like themselves. Some bullies are so troubled that they are probably disruptive and violent in others areas of their life too, perhaps at a youth club or at school. If this is the case, then they'll no doubt be well-known to teachers and parents who may have already had complaints from other people.

Boyfriend bullies

Are you being forced into a sexual relationship or are you frightened by your boyfriend's aggressive behaviour? Then you must...

  1. Talk. It may be that he doesn't realise his behaviour is intimidating you. Talk to him and make it clear how you expect to be treated.
  2. Listen. Does he have problems he's not letting you in on? Find out if he feels pressurised by friends to act a certain way when he's with you.
  3. Think. Is it worth sticking around? Remember - being harassed or touched-up is a form of bullying, even if the culprit is your boyfriend.

What can you do to help?

Lisa Smith from Sheffield wrote:

"I was physically and verbally bullied for four years on the bus to and from school. Eventually the bus route changed and I no longer saw the girl who was making my life a misery, but I'm sure that if I hadn't, then the abuse would have continued. I didn't want to tell anyone because I was scared of what of what would happen, but I wish now that I'd done something about it. If you know someone who's being bullied then please offer your help. Convince them to tell someone about what's happening, or ask if they'd prefer you to say something. You don't have to mention who's doing the bullying, just say you've noticed your friend is getting a bit of hassle and hopefully the teacher, or whoever, will take it from there. Someone's got to get the ball rolling, even if the victim won't speak out for themselves. I only wish that someone had done the same for me."

A friend in need; you may want to pretend that nothing's happening and turn a blind eye because...

  1. You don't want to make trouble for yourself. If the bullies have made your mate's life a misery, what's to stop them doing the same to you?
  2. Your friend may not want your help. They probably think it's not a problem that anyone else can help them solve.
  3. You may feel that the bully will only get their friends involved if you intervene and things will get even more out of hand.
  4. Your friend hasn't confided in you that they're having problems and you don't want to seem like you're poking your nose in.
  5. You don't want to lose friends. It may be that the bully is also a mate of yours and you feel it's best not to take sides.
  6. Your friend may have sworn you to secrecy, so you'd be betraying that confidence if you got help from somewhere else.

Here are six things you can do to help:

  1. Let a teacher know. Don't feel as though you're grassing - all you're doing is making your concern known to someone in a better position to help. You don't necessarily have to name the bully, just mention in passing that you've noticed the victim is getting a bit of hassle. If the teacher keeps an eye on them it will probably become apparent who the culprits are and most schools have tried and tested policies on how to deal with bullies. N.B. If the bullying isn't happening at school then try to talk to an adult who knows both the bully and the victim. They could be a youth club leader, employer or an adult friend of both parties.
  2. Listen to the victim. They may not even be a friend of yours, but it will always help them to know there's someone there who is willing to talk about the problem and give support. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself - admitting to someone else there's a problem may be their first step to getting help.
  3. Be a friend. Bullying is a very lonely experience, and victims may feel that they don't fit in with the crowd because they've been singled out for attention. Give the victim's confidence a boost by asking them along next time a gang of you go out together.
  4. Take what they say seriously. If someone takes you into their confidence and admits they're having problems with bullies, it's really important that you're sympathetic. Don't laugh it off and say 'it's nothing' or 'just forget about it'.
  5. Let them know about Childline.
  6. Never join in. You may even dislike the person you know is being abused, but bullying is not something that anyone deserves. Think about the victims you know and ask yourself if what is happening is fair. How scared would you feel if you were in their position? It may be easier to join in with the bullies than stick up for the victim, but if you can't bring yourself to help then please don't make the problem worse.

Samantha, 17, from Essex wrote:

"I'm at college now but I was bullied for most of my time at secondary school. I suppose it started because I always got my work handed in on time and they thought I was quite a good student. The bullying was never physical - I wasn't beaten up or anything - but words can hurt just as much, believe me. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't had my best mate Nazma. She always stuck by me and I couldn't have got through it without her."

Mizz, Childline and Radio 1 recommend the following 8 tactics for tackling bullying problems.

  1. Tell someone. No one can be expected to beat bullying single-handed. There are people out there who'll be only too pleased to help, even if you do feel very alone at times. If you'd like more advice on who you could talk to, or just need a word of encouragement, then phone Childline on 0800 1111.
  2. Get taken seriously. When you do tell someone, make them realise how much the situation is affecting you. Don't underplay the problem just because you don't want to cause trouble or seem like you're telling tales.
  3. Don't let the problem get taken out of your hands. It's your problem and you should have a say in the solution! Don't let other people take over completely, and make sure you get consulted before action is taken.
  4. Plan what you would like to happen. Have a long, hard think about what you'd like to happen in the future. If you set your goals now, you'll have something to work towards.
  5. Keep notes on the bullying. Write down when and where the bullying happens and if necessary get a friend to say they have witnessed the incidents. If you keep times and dates you can present hard facts to your teacher.
  6. Ask your parents/carers to visit your school. You may be able to arrange for this to happen after classes have finished - ask your mum or dad to phone the school office and make an appointment.
  7. Rehearse what you want to say. When you tell someone about your bullying problems it can be very easy to get nervous or upset, so have a clear idea of what you want to get across beforehand. If there's a friend who knows about your situation ask them to pretend to be your parent/teacher and try out what you want to say.
  8. Make other areas of your life work for you. When you're being bullied it can be really hard to concentrate on anything other than the abuse. But hard as it may be, getting involved in clubs or hobbies or just seeing another set of friends can give your confidence a boost. You deserve to enjoy yourself too!


The following are some other useful contacts for advice and help.

152 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW11 W9R

Scottish Schools Anti-Bullying Initiative
SCRE, 15 St Johns St, Edinburgh EH8 8JR

Actionwork Anti Bullying Through Theatre and Film
PO Box 433, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset BS24 0WY
Telephone: 01934 815163

The Princes Trust
Telephone: (UK only) 0800 842 842

Contact us if you know of any other help lines, particularily outside the UK.

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