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Fact Sheet

What to do if someone you know is being bullied


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What is bullying?

Bullying usually involves one or more people teasing, being violent towards, or harassing somebody on an ongoing basis. Bullying can happen in person and online (cyberbullying) and through cell phones. If you are personally being bullied, click here.

Is someone you know being bullied?

Bullying might be difficult to recognize, as it can happen when the person is alone. People who experience bullying might be scared to talk about it, or they might feel ashamed about being bullied. This could lead them to try to hide what is going on. If you haven’t been present when a person is being hassled, some indications that he or she is being bullied are:

  • Lack of motivation;
  • Vagueness (especially when he or she is talking about certain topics);
  • Unusual behavior;
  • Physical injuries.

Take care that you don’t immediately assume that the problem is bullying. These signs might be visible for a variety of reasons, and not only because a person is being bullied. People can show these signs because of their personalities, or because they’re dealing with other issues.

What to do if you think someone is being bullied

Talk to that person. It’s a good idea to talk to the person you think is being bullied to find out more about the situation. Try to remember that the person you are talking with could be very sensitive about the situation and could be scared to talk about it.

Let that person know you care. Help boost this person’s self-confidence. If a person is being bullied, it could affect his or her confidence. It can help to let this person know that you are a friend and that you care. It can also help to point out all the great things he or she has to offer others to boost his or her self-esteem.

Include the person into your group. Making a special effort to include the person into your group could help raise the person’s confidence.

Stick up for him or her. If you see someone is being bullied, it might be helpful to say something. Take care to ensure that in trying to stick up for the person being bullied, you don’t make the situation worse or put yourself in danger.

Speak to someone. Letting someone else know about the situation can help you solve the problem. A teacher, counselor, parent or another adult could be helpful. It might also be helpful to involve the person experiencing the bullying in the discussion. Or, you could go together and talk to someone about the situation. This might be a next step if the person being bullied has tried ignoring the bully, but they are continuing to be targeted.

Get help in the ReachOut forums. Share your struggle and get help and support from others who have been in your shoes, in the ReachOut forums here, or register to get posting now.

For more information

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center

Kids Health

Where to Next?

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