What to do if you’re being bullied

 When you’re dealing with bullying it can feel like there’s nothing you can do about it.  You can convince yourself that trying to stop it might make things worse.

If it’s happening in school, telling a teacher can seem like the last thing you want to do. Will your parents freak out and make a big fuss about it? If it’s happening in work, will anyone even believe you?

Everyone has the right to live, work, study and play in an environment free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence. No one deserves or asks to be bullied and you certainly shouldn’t go through it on your own. Don’t forget that. There are things you can do about it.


Asking someone for advice

If you’re dealing with bullying – be it verbal, physical or online – it can really help to tell someone about it and ask for advice. This can take a bit of courage but you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel just by getting it off your chest.

Telling someone else what’s going on is really important, if you feel threatened or you think you might be in danger. Don’t keep it to yourself. You’re not giving in and there’s nothing wussy or weak about reporting it or asking for advice. Anyone would need help with that.  Asking for support is actually a pretty brave move. Not sure what to say or how it could help? Read up on the benefits of talking to someone.


Who to ask

There are loads of people who might be able to help. Talk to your friends, or to older brothers or sisters if you have them – they might’ve been through this stuff and will understand.

If it’s happening in school, think of a teacher you trust. Teachers and counsellors are specially trained in these situations and it’s their job to help.

Also, it’s good for them to know it’s happening in the school, there might be other people going through it and they need to  figure out how to prevent it. So think about it as helping other people.


Talking to family

It’s understandable you might be worried your parent or guardian will completely explode if you say anything and run down to the school screaming their head off. We can’t say it won’t happen, but remember they want to help, and they actually might.

They’re also probably more clued in than you imagine, so explain to them if you don’t want them to do that and they might well get it. They could have suggestions you had never even thought of. Even if you don’t want them to do anything, it lightens the load, and that in itself is pretty good.


If it’s getting you down

If dealing with bullying is getting you down and affecting your day-to-day life, there are loads of people who can help, listen and support you.For more information on how people can help, see getting help. If you need to talk to someone straight away, see telephone help for a list of helplines, like Samaritans, that run 24 hours a day. If it’s an emergency go to I need help now. Someone will be able to help.


Tips for getting help

  • If you’re worried about speaking to someone, take a friend with you. If you don’t feel like you can talk about it out-loud or face-to-face,  write it down or put it in an email. If you’d like to talk to someone outside the situation, have a look at face-to-face help and online and telephone help.

  • Talk to whoever you tell about what they’re planning to do. They might have a responsibility to act if they’re a teacher or counsellor and they’re worried about your safety, so make sure you check with them. They should run all of this by you first. Be clear about what you want and don’t want to happen. Read up on confidentiality and consent.

  • If you don’t feel as if you’re being taken seriously, or if no action is taken, it doesn’t mean what’s happening is ok. You were right to bring it up. Tell someone else and keep at it until something changes.

Dealing with bullying can be really tough. It affects your self-esteem and your confidence, and can end up affecting your work and your relationships too. It’s really important to do something about it, and if you feel you need a hand dealing with the effects of it, speak to someone like a counsellor  to help you sort it out how you feel.


Working it out yourself

Depending on how bad the bullying is (and as long as you aren’t feeling in danger or physically threatened) you might decide to try to work it out yourself.


Here’s some ideas that might help with this:

  • Ignore it (simple but effective)

Ignoring whoever’s trying to intimidate you or is giving you hassle can be really effective for verbal bullying. After all, they’re trying to get a reaction from you, so if you don’t give them one, they can get bored and give it a rest.


Suggestions for ignoring them: Walk away when they approach you. Try and imagine it’s a friend you’re walking away from – make sure your body language (which you’re usually unaware of) doesn’t give away a sense of fear.

If someone’s slagging you, try to laugh it off. This can be tough, but don’t rise to the bait. Stay calm and try not to get visibly upset by it. Remember it’s more about them than you.

Concentrate on thinking about something else (like what you’ll do next weekend, something daft like listing all the players on a football team or remembering the words of a song).

Have a mantra – a saying or a statement you can repeat in your head when they approach you that makes you feel confident enough to just block them out (could be a line from a song or a film, whatever works)


  • Be confident

People who hassle other people usually set their sights on someone who seems nervous or unsure of themselves because they think they won’t stand up to them. Being confident about who you are can actually be your best defence. Even if you don’t feel it, as the not-so-old saying goes, “fake it ’til you make it”.

Suggestions for using your confidence to deal with bullying:

  • Tell them to give it a rest – don’t be aggressive, just calm and sure of yourself.

  • Turn around and be nice – killing them with kindness can throw them right off track.

  • Using humour may also throw them off.

  • Use positive self-talk – tell yourself you’re a better person than all that.

  • Remember there’s people who accept you for you who are and they’re the ones that matter.

    • Use visualisation

This might sound daft and it won’t work for everyone, but it can keep you from getting  overwhelmed. Picture yourself as being miles taller than whoever’s hassling you, or imagine them in some ridiculous costume. This can help you realise they’re only human, and probably not as tough as they make out.

  • Stay positive

It can be hard to remember your good points when someone is doing their best to put you down. However, try to think of all the things you’re good at and proud of and stuff that makes you laugh.  Some of the world’s brightest and funniest and most talented people get a hard time when they’re young. Remember this will pass, and loads of people get through it and go on to do amazing stuff with their lives.

  • Safety in numbers

You’re safer in a group, so hang out with other people when you can. If you’re by yourself and worried about being hassled or feel threatened, be aware of places nearby where there’ll be other people.


Moving on

Sometimes no matter how you or other people try to resolve a bullying situation, there might be no real solution other than to move school or change your job. This can seems like a massive deal, but sometimes making a fresh start is actually the simplest way forward and it can hugely improve how you feel day-to-day.

This isn’t always a possibility and it’s not the first option, but when it’s the right thing to do can actually be the best decision you ever make. You’re not giving up up, just moving on. Parents can sometimes be resistant to the idea of moving school, but talk to them about it and explain how you feel. That way you can figure out what your options are.


More information and places that can help

There’s loads of information out there on bullying, and loads of people around the world who’ve started projects and campaigns to try and deal with it. Checking these out can be great ways to get some help yourself.

You’ll see there are so many people who feel the same way you do, and who know that bullying is a really serious issue we all need to do something about. Start with the helpful sites below.



Cyberbullying is a relatively new form of bullying which has started happening a lot on social networking sites, online forums and by email or text.

Examples of cyberbullying behaviour are:

  • abusive messages or slagging on Facebook, Twitter etc

  • offensive comments on videos or posts

  • spreading rumours online

  • hacking into your online accounts

  • posting offensive images

Cyberbullying can happen to anyone – think about all the Youtube comment pages or gossip sites that are full of people putting other people down. Whoever’s doing it can act anonymously and can say things they’d never say in real life. It’s important to remember it’s just as serious as face-to-face bullying and no one should have to deal with it. It’s really important to learn how to protect yourself online and how to respond if you or a friend is having a tough time with it.


How to avoid it

  • Never give out your passwords – always keep your passwords and PIN numbers to yourself, and make a habit of logging out of your email/Facebook page if you’re using a public computer.

  • Pick your friends carefully – remember whatever you post online can be seen by everyone who’s got access to your page or the discussion board. If it’s Facebook, only make friends with people you’re ok sharing information with.

  • Use Netiquette – be polite to other people online. Think about what you’re saying and whether it might be hurtful or embarrass them in public, even if it’s funny.

  • Don’t send a message to someone else when you’re angry – wait until you’ve calmed down and had time to think. Once you’ve sent it, you can’t take it back.

  • Don’t forget that nothing is permanently deleted. Even sites like Snapchat which claims to remove seen files can’t guarantee this. Everyone knows how to screen-grab a snapchat, but people claim to know how to retrieve snapchats which should’ve vanished.

How to deal with it

  • Don’t reply – even though you might really want to, don’t rise to the bait and reply to messages from someone who’s bullying you. They want to know that they’ve got you worried and upset. Chances are if you never reply they’ll get bored and leave you alone.

  • Learn how to manage your social media platforms. If you look at the frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of a website or app you’ll be able to find out how to report or stop unwanted users from targeting your page.

  • Go offline – if you feel like it’s invading every bit of your life, remember you can turn off your computer and your phone anytime. Ditch virtual reality for some actual reality for a while.

  • Inform your phone company or Internet Service Provider (ISP)– they can block texts, calls or online messages from specific people.

  • Change your contact details – get a new user name, a new email address, a new mobile number and only give them to your closest friends. This doesn’t mean you’re giving in, you’re just getting on with your own life.

  • Tell someone – if it’s bothering you, don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to someone about it. If you’re worried your parents will freak out, you could talk to a friend, a teacher you trust or a youth worker. Check face-to-face help for more.

  • Inform the Gardaí – if the messages are ever threatening or it’s getting really serious, tell the Gardaí. It’s against the law to threaten people, and the Gardaí can put a stop to it. They’re there to keep you safe, and they generally want to know about stuff like this.

  • Keep a record – you don’t have to read the messages, but keep them and keep a record of the time and date. This can act as evidence if you ever need it, and can help the Gardaí or your ISP find out where the messages are coming from.


What is it?

Cyber bullying involves unwanted messages, images, audio or video sent by electronic means to threaten, abuse or harm someone. It’s like physical or verbal bullying, but uses technology instead. Examples of cyber bullying include but are not limited to:

  • Abusive messages or slagging on Facebook, Twitter, Ask.fm etc.

  • Offensive comments on videos or posts.

  • Spreading rumours online.

  • Hacking into your online accounts.

  • Posting offensive images or posting doctored images of victims.


Why do bullies bully?

  • They think it’s fun.

  • They do it to get back at somebody they are mad at (common amongst friends after a ‘trigger’ event).

  • They feel bad about themselves.


Cyber bullying, according to some legal experts, is illegal under section 10 of the 1997 non-fatal offences against the person act. We are hoping the Minister for Justice can get clarity from the Attorney General on the current legal framework and how it is or can be applied. We welcome his decision to refer to the Law Reform Commission.


How to avoid it?

  • Never give out your passwords – always keep your passwords to yourself, and make a habit of logging out of your email or social networks when you’re finished. Passwords should be made up of mixed characters and not made up of pet names or date of births. You should also have a different password for each account or service.

  • Restrict your privacy settings on Facebook to ‘friends only’, protect your tweets, hide your profile from the Facebook search engine, disable ‘anonymous’ questions in the settings on Ask.fm if you choose to use that particular website.

  • Learn how to block and report other profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

  • Pick your friends carefully – remember whatever you post online can be seen by everyone who’s got access to your page. If it’s Facebook, only accept friend requests from people with who you’re comfortable about sharing information with and who you know in real life.

  • Be kind to other people online. Don’t say anything hurtful to other users and ask yourself whether or not what you say online would be acceptable in a face-to-face discussion.

  • Don’t send a message to someone else when you’re angry – wait until you’ve calmed down and had time to think. Once you’ve sent it, you can’t take it back.


How to tackle it as a victim?

  • Don’t reply to the messages, as much as you might want to. It will only make the problem worse. Bullies want to know that they’ve got you worried and upset. Letting them know they have been successful will only encourage them to continue.

  • If you’re worried or concerned about a piece of content that has been uploaded that you are in, contact a trusted adult or friend. You can also contact the provider where the image or video has been uploaded (Facebook, Twitter ) and ask for it to be removed.

  • Save the evidence, take a screenshot as proof.

  • Go offline. Logout or switch off your phone and talk to family or do something you enjoy.

  • Tell a trusted adult, such as a close relative, a family friend, a teacher, health professional or a youth worker or contact a free confidential support service such as Samaritans – telephone 1850 60 90 90. See our help services section.

  • Change your passwords, number, contacts details and make sure your privacy settings are restricted on all websites. Block and report the bullying to the technology providers such as the mobile phone company, web host or website owner.

  • Block anonymous questions on Ask.fm in your privacy settings if you decide to use the website.

  • In serious or persistent cases report the bullying to Gardaí yourself or through your parents.


Bullying is everyone’s problem

If you don’t report it, you support it.


Stop Bullying

Talk to someone you trust and someone who can help you, if you’re being bullied.

I’m being bullied, what can I do?

  • Admit to yourself that you are being bullied and that the behaviour being aimed at you is unfair and unjustified. Try to look at your situation – and the bully – objectively. Ask yourself: would I accept this behaviour in someone I did not know?

  • Believe in yourself. Don’t believe what the bully says of you. You know that it is not true.

  • If the bullying is affecting you physically, go to see your doctor. Atalk with your doctor or a spell of sick leave may give you the space in which to bounce back.

  • Try to stand up for yourself. If you need to, take assertiveness training.

  • Train yourself to be able to stare someone out – it gives the impression of confidence – and teaches you to say ‘no’ emphatically, and then walk away.

  • Check out your body language. If you stoop, hang your head and hunch over, you may be giving off ‘victim’ signals. Practice walking with confidence, standing straight with head held high and taking deep breaths.

  • Try not to show that the bully has upset you – they may become bored with getting no reaction from you and then stop.


How can bullying be stopped?

  • It is very difficult for anyone who is being bullied to talk about it, but this is what has to happen! Telling a parent, a teacher or principal, your boss, a youth/sports group leader or someone in a position of authority who can help, is very important. If you find it too difficult or you’re too frightened, ask a friend to support you and to be with you when you talk about the bullying.

  • Make sure to tell a friend or work colleague about what’s happening: don’t try to deal with the bullying alone, the more support you have the better.

  • Keep a record of every bullying episode that happens: note the time, place, what happened and if anyone else was a witness. This will help you explain clearly what’s been happening.


If you see someone being bullied, what can you do?

  • You can ask the person to stop the bullying but this is never easy to do because of the fear that you might become the next victim.

  • You can quietly approach the victim and let him / her know that you saw the bullying episode and advise them to tell someone.

  • You can report the incident to an appropriate person yourself.

  • If the victim begins to discuss the bullying, it may seem to be all they can talk about. Be patient and let them go on – it’s better for them to let it all out than bottle it up.


What to do next:

  • Don’t overreact, victims need rational advice and help, not emotional overload.

  • Believe the victim and not any authority figure who may dismiss the claims of bullying simply as ‘part’ of growing up or ‘part of the rough and tumble of life’. No one should have to put up with bullying.

  • Ask victims if they have any suggestions about changing the situation.

  • Seek advice from an individual or a support group with experience in this area.

  • Keep an eye on the victim. If they threaten suicide, take this very seriously and get professional help immediately.