Thursday, 20 September 2012

Support strategies to counteract bullying.

Lizzy and Emily

If someone you know is being, or has been bullied, there are many things you can do to help or support them. As a society we musn't just accept bullying in schools or workplaces or online, as an acceptable fact of life it isn't. It exists where ever  there are power structures, social groups, hierarchies and people participating in them. 

The people who can do more to stem bullying than anyone else, are those who witness bullying but do nothing either through nervousness of being targeted, or concern that they may make things worse for the target. So I've compiled a list of suggestions to counteract this.

We can all make small changes which can improve the lives of those being bullied and challenge the mindsets of people who are bullies.

Here are some strategies drawn from my own and my children's experience of being bullied. Knowing that support is there when you're being bullied is crucial and can make a valuable difference to the lives of people who are being bullied.

1)  Listen to what they have to say, for as long as it takes them to say it, don't expect a fluent explanation at all times.

2)  Don't judge their experience to them or to others.

3)  Avoid phrases like "don't you think you're over reacting", "You're being too sensitive", "well you brought this on yourself", "you're just deliberately misunderstanding?", "This is just a part of life"

4)  Don't suggest strategies unless you have successfully overcome bullying yourself. Even in that case proceed with caution and sensitivity.

5)  Don't tell someone being bullied to "just ignore it".

6)  Don't defend or explain bullies to their target.

7)  Don't ignore the target of bullies, isolating the target is a common ploy by bullies.

8)  Don't suggest to someone who tells you they are being bullied that they are "just imagining it"

9)  Don't enable bullies in their behaviour.Don't repeat their view or any accompanying "evidence"of target's "transgressions", as this promotes bullying.

10)  Refuse to be drawn into discussions which promote the target as the aggressor.

11)  If one person is being denigrated or verbally or physically attacked by more than one person, this is not just an "argument".This is bullying.

12)  Understand the methods of bullying. Criticism, mocking jokes, repetition of targets words or actions, social exclusion, promoting myths, distortions and whispering campaigns, discrediting of achievements, reactive allegations of bullying, organising of others to attack target, threats and physical attacks.

13)  If you know your friend is being a bully, don't ignore the facts or enable the behaviour, just because you like them. If they try and get you to participate refuse.

14)  Recognise the part we all play in promoting and allowing the culture of bullying to thrive. This is never "justified" or "deserved" an argument is not an excuse for bullying anyone, but it is often the catalyst.

15)  "Weak" people are not the targets of bullies, they are the friends of bullies. Strong people are bullied everyday irrespective of ( sometimes precisely because of)  sexual orientation, race, status, gender, faith, atheism or disability.

16)  Bullying is not just a part of growing up or a rite of passage. It is a damaging life long problem encountered in school, work and online.

17)  Adults are just as likely to be bullied as children.

18)  Bullying can occur from strangers and within friendship groups.

19)  Social media has prompted the rise of cyberbullying. If you see people being bullied online report it and support them. Don't just ignore it- it won't just go away.

20)  Contact those being bullied, regularly. It's amazing the difference being supported makes in the lives of those being bullied and the greatest weapon against the devastating despair that being bullied provokes. 

Standing together against bullying is crucial, after all the next person targeted might be you. It will help and it might even save a life.


  1. Bullying is something I have to put up with on a regular basis from strangers. I was used to it at school as well. Thank you for this. People just stare when I get attacked in the street for looking different. I can only remember one incident of someone trying to help me.

  2. Oh for goodness sake,after some genuine good advice by certain people on twitter,advice trying to help you by advising you to stop going on about the recent incident, you have now quoted some of that friendly advice ,in your list of "Do Nots" all because they didn't pander to you and agree with your constant sob stories,I am crying now, I am not eating etc, you as the above poster said,transparent and disgusting, and you are supposed to be a spokesperson for vulnerable people, god help them is all I can say. Grow up.

    1. I've been an anti bullying campaigner for four years and my children and myself have been bullied and we have all heard these and many comments like them.

      My list has nothing to do with your agenda. I'm fronting an anti-bullying teaching resource campaign for schools.

      I suggest that you unfollow me on Twitter and stop reading my blog as you are clearly so offended by me.

      Your comments are offensive and out of place and bear no relationship to anything written here.

      Please rethink your approach when speaking to anyone who has been bullied, especially in terms of the clear lack of compassion and accusations you have written here whilst hiding behind your own anonymity.

      Support is what people need not your nonsensical "advice" and clear contempt.

      Nicky Clark

    2. Wow, someone coming onto an anti-bullying website in order to abuse people - how sad, sick and inadequate can one person be?

      Equally it's difficult to conceive of someone so clueless on bullying as to attack your advice when anyone who has faced systematic bullying (as I have at school, and in the workplace, and in the community, all simply for being disabled) will immediately recognise the combination of good sense and refusing to tacitly enable the bullies that is compiled there.

      Keep up the good work, that people revile you for it simply proves how desparately change is needed.

  3. Nicky. Err i'm the first anonymous commenter who mentioned disgusting. Sorry about that, bit too angry. . Could you delete my comment as it isnt a true representation of my opinion. I'm anonymous cos i cant remember any of those other weird details to enter but you can call me dave. I'll rewrite something a bit more reasonable. Apologies for any upset. Cheers. (i'm not the second anonymous person here btw heh) . Dave.

    1. Done Dave. This has nothing to do with the recent spate this is about a new anti-bullying resource piece which I'm fronting for a charity. The piece was supposed to go up last week but is now due today.

      if you could mention that on your forum I would appreciate it. Thank you

  4. Great piece Nicky, could you put a space between each number on the list to make it easier to read I'd like to read it again please? The bullies seem to crawl out of the wood work no matter what you write or who you write about Nicky, scary to see that there are so many narcissistic personalties running around feeding their egos off of the much needed advocating and educating pieces you write. It doesn't mater who is being bullied it is wrong. That's a lovely picture of your girls!

    1. Thank you my lovely . Have put the space in sorry for that. :0)

      Thank you so much for your brilliant support as always. Nik xxx

    2. Great blog. Feel so sorry for you getting abuse which appears to have been directed against you. I was the victim of a hate crime and because I wrote about it I got the same treatment - stop mentioning it as you only encourage it etc. People need to know what is happening and how to deal with it. Good for you.

  5. Can you please tell me where I can find out about this anti bullying teaching resource campaign for schools, my school may be interested. Thanks.

  6. Here's one of the links to the permanent site for the resource at The Guardian . I've written about the resource too and that piece is going up tomorrow. Should have been today but was slightly delayed. best Nik

  7. That's a really useful, effective piece of advice - and it probably works against all forms of bullying, too. For example, the ways in which we are "bullied" by our current government. Never give in. Never accept defeat. Keep strong: we are many, they are few.