National Safeguarding Unit (NSU) - Safe Activities For Everyone

How does bullying occur? Information on the many forms of bullying 

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This section gives information on the different forms of bullying.

Types of Bullying
Bullying can take many forms but usually includes the following:

Physical – hitting, kicking, pinching, punching, scratching, spitting or any other form of physical attack. Damage to or taking someone else’s belongings may also constitute physical bullying.
Verbal – offensive name calling, insults, racist remarks, sexist or homophobic jokes, teasing, threats, using sexually suggestive or abusive language.
Indirect – spreading nasty stories/rumours about someone, intimidation, exclusion from social groups.

This is a form of bullying which uses technology to deliberately harm or upset others. This type of bullying can happen in many ways, using mobile phones or the internet and could include:

  • Sending hurtful messages or using images
  • Leaving malicious voicemails
  • A series of silent calls
  • Creating a website about other people to humiliate them
  • Exclude them from chat/messenging rooms/areas 
  • ‘Happy slapping’- sending video/images of people being bullied, so others can see

Bullies might be using this form of bullying because it's very difficult to trace the senders.

Online bullying

Tips for parents on being safe with technology

  • being familar with ICT. You could spend time with your children looking at different blocking functionalities eg stopping unwanted emails etc.
  • encourage your child to talk about how they use their mobile phone or their computer.
  • ask your child about malicious calls, messages or emails and what they should do if this were to happen.
  • try and keep your family computer somewhere you can monitor how much time your child spends on it.

Cyberbullying - facts for parents (PDF)

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‘Being used for explicit sexual content being circulated via email, text or Bluetooth’
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Prejudice and difference
Many children, and adults, are bullied because they are seen to be ‘different’. This is usually referred to as prejudice-driven bullying. It may be that your child is seen as different because of their race, religion or culture, because of their sexuality, because of their gender, or because of any special educational needs or disabilities they may have.

This is directed towards young people who are openly gay, bisexual, are perceived as gay, or show characteristics often associated with the opposite gender. When heterosexual young people are subjected to homophobic bullying they can be less reluctant to report it, as this may reinforce the stereotypical way that they are already viewed by others. The bullying is often verbal, but can also be physical, and in serious cases constitutes assault, leading to investigation by the police. Harassment of a homophobic nature tends to be carried out by groups of people, and occurs often, even daily.  Sexual name calling, such as calling someone/something ‘gay’, begins in the primary school, although homophobic bullying overall is more common in adolesence.

Race, religion and culture
Racist violence, harassment and abuse are closely related to, and sometimes difficult to distinguish from bullying. Racist bullying can range from ill-considered remarks, which are not intended to be hurtful, to deliberate physical attacks causing serious injury. Racist bullying can be identified by the motivation of the bully, the language used, and by the fact that victims are singled out because of the colour of their skin, the way they talk, their ethnic grouping or by their religious or cultural practices.

We know that children are more likely to be bullied when they are vulnerable. Mencap research shows children with disabilities/special needs are three times more likely than their peers to be bullied. People’s assumptions and prejudices about disability can make disabled children more vulnerable to bullying for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Negative attitudes towards disability.
  • A lack of understanding of different disabilities and conditions.
  • Being seen as “different”.
  • Not recognising that they are being bullied.
  • They may be doing different work or have additional support at school.
  • They may be more isolated due to their disability.
  • They may have difficulties in telling people about bullying.
  • They may find it harder to make friends.

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