Calderdale Youth Council has defined bullying as "physical or emotional attacks that invade our personal space, usually on a passive victim, that can be direct or indirect and result in the victim feeling uncomfortable or hurt".
The Department of Education says: Bullying may be defined as “Behaviour by an individual or group, usually repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally".
Bullying covers various types of behaviours, but in general bullying will have these things in common:
- It is deliberate hurtful behaviour by an individual or a group that causes physical or emotional harm
- It is usually repeated over a period of time, but sometimes may be a one off incident
- there is a real or perceived imbalance of power which leaves children and young people feeling unable to prevent it or put a stop to it.
It is crucial to acknowledge the impact that bullying has on a child or young person when dealing with issues of bullying, not whether the behaviour towards the child or young person fits a specified definition.
Symptoms and signs of bullying
Any of the following behaviours might mean that a child or young person is being bullied:
- showing stress - being moody, silent or crying, or becoming withdrawn
- making excuses to miss school, such as stomach complaints or headaches (or may be skipping school altogether)
- seems upset after using the internet or mobile, or changes their behaviour - for example, no longer wanting to look at new text messages immediately - and being secretive and unwilling to talk about their online activities and phone use
- changing their normal route to school
- being unusually hungry when getting home from school, although they have been given packed lunch/dinner money
- beginning to do poorly in school work for unexplained reasons
- has more bruises or scrapes than usual
- changes their eating habits
- asking for unusual amounts of money or beginning to steal
- refusing to say what’s wrong
- starting to bully others
- avoiding certain activities, for example, where pupils from school are involved.
- has torn clothes, school things that are broken or missing, or has 'lost' money
- sleeps badly
- begins wetting the bed.
These are only examples, and there could be other reasons for these changes. If you are worried that something is wrong, ask them directly about it, including asking them whether they are being bullied.