What is bullying?

Bullying is defined as behaviour that is meant to be hurtful, that targets a person or group of people that happens more than once, and embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied. In South Africa, 17% of grade nine students reported being exposed to some form of bullying on an almost weekly basis.

Different types of bullying include:

Verbal / emotional: Name calling or insults, threats, teasing, intimidation or stalking

Physical: Punching, kicking, or stealing and / or destroying someone else’s property. Unwanted kissing or touching

Social: Being left out or ignored, having rumours spread about you

Cyberbullying: Hurting someone using technology, via email, chat rooms, text messages, discussion groups, social media, instant messaging or websites

The truth about bullying is that

Bullying can affect every part of a young person’s life, including relationships with their friends and family

It can happen in person, but it can also happen out of sight or online

People who have experienced bullying are more likely to develop anxiety and depression, and are also at increased danger for self-harming behaviour, substance abuse, or suicide attempts

The growing trend of cyberbullying has left many young people particularly vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment from people online, and this can have devastating effects on the affected youth’s mental and emotional health and wellbeing

It can take place at home or in a family setting, at school, at the workplace, or via social media

It can also affect one’s confidence and performance at school or at work

It is important that bullying be taken seriously and young people be offered the mental health support they need in order to deal with negative behaviour from others

Looking after yourself

If you are being bullied at school, at work, online, or somewhere else, it is important to remember that there are many people who can support you, including friends, teachers, family members, managers or parents

Don’t be scared to open up and talk to someone who you trust

Talking to someone about how you feel can be difficult at first, especially if it’s not something you are used to doing, but it is a good habit to get into

By talking about what is going on you can begin to understand how you are feeling, why you are feeling that way and what you can do about it

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