Although there is no legal definition of bullying, it is usually defined as behaviour that is:
- intended to hurt someone either physically or emotionally
- often aimed at certain groups, for example because of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation
It takes many forms and can include:
- physical assault
- making threats
- name calling
- cyberbullying - bullying via mobile phone or online (for example email, social networks and instant messenger)
Who’s at risk
Any child can be bullied for any reason. If a child is seen as different in some way or seen as an easy target, they can be more at risk.
This might be because of their:
- race or ethnic background
- sexual orientation
Or could be because they:
- appear anxious or have low self-esteem
- lack assertiveness
- are shy or introverted
Popular or successful children are also bullied, sometimes because others are jealous of them. Sometimes a child’s family circumstance or home life can be a reason for someone bullying them.
Disabled children can experience bullying because they seem an easy target and less able to defend themselves.
It is important for us to be aware and to understand the impact of bullying upon children and young people. Below are the different ways that this can manifest.
Children and young people who have experienced bullying are more likely to:
- face barriers to learning
- miss school (Natcen research below found that at any one time over 16,000 young people aged 11 to 15 are missing education primarily due to bullying)
- be excluded (LSYPE research below found that children that were bullied daily were 3 times more likely to be excluded from school than those that were not bullied)
- place strain on families or carers
- self-harm and experience depression
- have impaired wellbeing
King’s College London research from 2015 shows the substantial long-term effect of being bullied (especially if they fall into a ‘frequently bullied’ category) where people were more likely to:
- experience a range of mental health issues as an adult, including suicide ideation
- earn less money
- not be in employment, education or training into adulthood
- be obese (particularly in women)
- gain qualifications
- not be in stable relationships
Other research shows people who were bullied as children are more likely to:
- commit or be a victim of domestic violence
- be homeless
Research from University of Warwick and Duke Medical Centre suggests that the long term impact of bullying may even be worse than that of child abuse.
- CAMHS: How to help with bullying
- Childline - free, confidential helpline and online service dedicated to children and young people - telephone 0800 1111
- CEOP Education - supports parents, young people and professionals on child exploitation and online protection
- NSPCC: Bullying and cyber bullying
- Anti-Bullying Alliance
- Proud Enfield - the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) group of young people in Enfield aged 13 to 18. There is a regular LGBT drop-in for young people on the first and third Friday of each month. Young people can take their issues and concerns to this group. You can get further information from ECYPS on 020 8373 2710.