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Last Updated: Thursday October 28 2004 10:11 GMT

Expert tips on beating the bullies

Bullying expert Michele Elliott from Kidscape

Many of you are worried about bullying so we put some common questions to expert Michele Elliott.

She's from the charity Kidscape which helps prevent bullying and child abuse.

If you're being bullied is it okay to fight back?

It's not a good idea to fight back as you could get hurt and make the situation worse. Try ignoring the bullies. Be assertive, but if they persist or if they become physical, then get out of the situation fast and tell an adult or teacher to make sure the bullying stops.

My family and I are moving house next month and I'll have to start a new school. I'm worried about having no friends and being bullied.

Bullies tend to single out children who are non-assertive and isolated. Make a big effort to be friendly when you start your new school. Invite children over to your house for tea and join a few local groups like cubs or perhaps your favourite sporting activity. Ignore any initial taunts and try to show people you are a confident, likeable child - even if you are nervous inside. If bullying does start, be assertive. Walk tall, stare them out if you can and tell a teacher in confidence, so they can nip any bullying in the bud.

I'm worried about getting bullied on the way home. Can the teachers help me even if it's not happening in school?

If the bullies are in uniform, then their school should be informed so they can talk about this in assembly as it does not reflect well on the school concerned. If it is happening on a school bus, the school can talk to the driver and if necessary prevent the bullies from using the school bus if it continues. If you do not know which school the bullies are from, then your parents can inform the Community Liaison Officer at your local police station. They may keep an eye on the areas you mention and caution the children concerned. Remember not to suffer in silence as there are things you can do with adult help, otherwise the bullies will continue their actions.

One of my friends is bullying someone else in my class. I think it's wrong but if I stand up to him I'm afraid he won't be my friend anymore. What should I do?

Tell your friend that you do not like how they are treating the person in your class. If they continue the behaviour, tell a teacher in confidence as it needs to stop and bullying can be discussed as a class issue in citizenship lessons. This way you do not need to reveal how the teacher knows about the bullying. Consider making other new friends if the bully tries to influence you to behave badly as this is not friendship. Show kindness to the person being bullied as they need to know other people care about what is happening.

I get sent nasty emails and text messages from people at school. What can I do to stop them?

Never respond to nasty emails or text messages. Just as with other forms of bullying, it is best to give the bullies no reaction, so that they get bored enough to stop choosing you as the victim. Your mobile service provider will have a telephone number you can ring to report abusive messages to. This also applies to emails, and there are ways you can filter emails, so that you can delete them before reading them. If the situation becomes serious, save some of the messages so that you can keep them as evidence, should you need to take the matter further. As you know the senders are people at school, tell your parents and teacher, so that it can be stopped.

Someone is stealing things from me but I don't know who it is. I think it must be someone who doesn't like me but I'm worried what will happen if I tell my parents or a teacher. What should I do?

Stealing is a criminal offence. If you do not tell, it is likely to continue. Inform your parents and teacher so that they can work together to stop it happening. The thief will not like the subject brought up in class or assembly and be more nervous about stealing. The teacher may be aware of it happening to other children and will also be able to inform the staff to keep an eye open for the thief with your evidence. Make sure you try and minimise opportunities for bullying by not bringing valuable possessions to school.

A bunch of kids in my class always make fun of me, but they don't hit me. Am I being bullied?

Yes. Bullying includes name-calling, exclusion and any repeated behaviour that makes a person feel unhappy or uncomfortable. If these people have been friends, ask one of them how they would feel if they were made fun of. If you are feeling brave, tell the bully off in a loud and assertive voice. Tell a teacher and your parents so that the matter is taken seriously and the bullies can be spoken to. Keep a diary of all incidents so that if it continues the teachers can use this as evidence. Learn some techniques to throw the bullies off guard: Stare them out; pretend you are hard of hearing; keep a bored expression as you walk away. There are lots of tips on the Kidscape website for you to practise at home to give you some skills to tackle bullying. Click on the link to the right of this page. Most of all, remember it's not your fault you are being bullied and the bullying needs to be stopped.



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