Bullies are not special, not strong, and not tough. In fact, they usually need to appear powerful because they secretly feel weak.

They may be: jealous of other people ….unhappy with themselves…. Insecure….bullied at home….afraid of being unpopular….unable to show their feelings. They may also be adults. Bullies often try to make it seem that the bullying is the victim’s own fault. This is NEVER true.

You are in the middle of a group of people, all laughing at your clothes. You start off by laughing too but you feel more and more miserable and embarrassed. You try to tell them it’s not funny any more but they go on laughing.

Are you being bullied or is this just a joke?

You are being bullied. This laughter is at you, not with you. Don’t feel you have to go along with it.

Who is bullying you – everyone in the group? The person who started it? The person laughing loudest?

It may feel as if everyone is bullying you but most people in the group are just following the ringleader. Don’t play the bully’s game by concentrating on him or her. Try to pick out the weakest member of the group, look them in the face and ask why they are going along with it.

What can you do to stop it – walk away? Hit the ringleader? Yell “shut up”? go on laughing?

Don’t hit out – you are outnumbered and may be blamed for starting a fight. And you are not amused, so why laugh? You can try yelling, but you must make it a loud, angry yell and then walk away at once. Or just walk away.

You try to walk away, they block your path and start pushing you. What do you do?

Be careful how you defend yourself – you don’t want to make things worse. You’ll need to judge the situation: sometimes you can wait these things out, but try to attract attention meanwhile. The best bet might well be to shout loudly, and then get away as soon as you can.

Do you tell anyone?

Yes – always tell someone. Go to a sympathetic teacher, explain what happened and identify the bullies. Teachers are now trained to tackle bullying. Tell your friends too – and if they were involved, ask them separately why they did it.