Why do People Bully?

According to our latest research, 1 in 2 people have experienced bullying in some form in the last 12-months. And trust us when we say, we know how difficult it can be to go through it, especially if you don’t fully understand the psychology of bullying.

In this article, we will be exploring the reasons why people bully, using the latest research and psychology to give you a greater understanding of the motives of those who are either bullying you right now or who have done so in the past.

You may have assumed that you get bullied for whatever makes you different or unique, for example: your race, religion, culture, sexual or gender identity, line of work, fashion sense or weight. By the end of this article, you will know that this is not the case at all.

If you want to talk about it – join our community today to start a conversation about bullying and speak to our amazing digital mentors who can help you anonymously without judgement.

The Psychology of Being Bullied

We will explore the reasons why later on in this article, but most frequently, those who bully others are looking to gain a feeling of power, purpose and control over you.

The easiest way of doing this is to focus on something that is unique about you – either preying on or creating new insecurity with an intent to hurt you either physically or emotionally.

What happens is, we, as the people experiencing bullying, start to internalise it and we become self-critical. We want to understand the reasons why we are being targeted and we start to blame ourselves.

As a result, we try to change or mask that unique characteristic in order to avoid the bullying. We dye our hair, bleach our skin, date people we aren’t interested in and cover up our bodies like they are something to be ashamed of.

It starts to affect our behaviour and the ways in which we see ourselves, which in turn, can go on to impact both our mental and physical health.

The way we see bullying is all wrong. It isn’t because we are different in some way.

person, standing, edge, of, shoreline, water. fog. hills

The Real Reasons Why People Bully Others

In a recent Ditch the Label study, we spoke to 7,347 people about bullying. We asked respondents to define bullying and then later asked if, based on their own definition, they had ever bullied anybody. 14% of our overall sample, so that’s 1,239 people, said yes. What we then did was something that had never been done on this scale before; we asked them intimate questions about their lives, exploring things like stress and trauma, home lives, relationships and how they feel about themselves.

In fact, we asked all 7,347 respondents the same questions and then compared the answers from those who had never bullied, those who had bullied at least once and those who bully others daily. This then gave us very strong, scientific and factual data to identify the real reasons why people bully others.

It also scientifically proves that the reason people get bullied is never, contrary to popular belief, because of the unique characteristics of the person experiencing the bullying. So, why do people bully?

Stress and Trauma:

Our data shows that those who bully are far more likely than average to have experienced a stressful or traumatic situation in the past 5 years. Examples include their parents/guardians splitting up, the death of a relative or the gaining of a little brother or sister.

It makes sense because we all respond to stress in very different ways. Some of us use positive behaviours, such as meditation, exercise and talking therapy – all designed to relieve the stress.

Others use negative behaviours such as bullying, violence and alcohol abuse, which temporarily mask the issues but usually make them worse in the long-term.

The research shows that some people simply do not know how to positively respond to stress and so default to bullying others as a coping mechanism.

Aggressive Behaviours:

66% of the people who had admitted to bullying somebody else were male. Take a minute to think about how guys are raised in our culture and compare that to the ways in which girls are raised. The moment a guy starts to show any sign of emotion, he’s told to man up and to stop being a girl.

For girls, it’s encouraged that they speak up about issues that affect them.

For guys, it’s discouraged and so they start to respond with aggressive behaviours, such as bullying, as a way of coping with issues that affect them. This is why guys are more likely than girls to physically attack somebody or to commit crimes. It isn’t something they are born with, it’s a learned behaviour that is actively taught by society using dysfunctional gender norms and roles.

Low Self-Esteem:

In order to mask how they actually feel about themselves, some people who bully focus attention on someone else. They try to avoid any negative attention directed at them by deflecting. But know they might look in the mirror at home and hate the way they look.

There is so much pressure to live up to beauty and fitness standards that we are taught to compare ourselves to others, instead of embracing our own beauty.

They’ve Been Bullied:

Our research shows that those who have experienced bullying are twice as likely to go on and bully others. Maybe they were bullied as kids in the past, or maybe they are being bullied now.

Often it’s used as a defence mechanism and people tend to believe that by bullying others, they will become immune to being bullied themselves. In fact, it just becomes a vicious cycle of negative behaviours.

Difficult Home Life:

1 in 3 of those who bully people daily told us that they feel like their parents/guardians don’t have enough time to spend with them. They are more likely to come from larger families and are more likely to live with people other than their biological parents.

There are often feelings of rejection from the very people who should love them unconditionally. They are also much more likely to come from violent households with lots of arguments and hostility.

Low Access to Education:

Without access to education, hate-based conversation directed at others may be the norm. They may not understand what hate speech is and why speaking about people in a derogatory way is not appropriate.

Relationships:

Finally, those who bully are more likely to feel like their friendships and family relationships aren’t very secure. In order to keep friendships, they might be pressured by their peers to behave in a certain way.

They are more likely to feel like those who are closest to them make them do things that they don’t feel comfortable doing and aren’t very supportive or loving.

man in cap standing in front of a wall featuring art

So there you have it, some of the most common reasons why people bully others.

If you are being bullied, it’s time to put the knowledge to the test. Carry on reading with our article on overcoming bullying. If you are doing the bullying, here are 7 things that you can do to overcome it.


If you are looking for more help – our community is a safe space to discuss your issues and get support from trained digital mentors who will help you without judgement.

What We Do

Every year at Ditch the Label, we carry out extensive research into bullying by asking students across the country about their experiences.

We delve into the reasons why people bully and are bullied, as well as asking important questions about things like relationships, gender, mental health and body image.

This groundbreaking research also takes a look at the nature of different types of bullying, the long terms effects that bullying has on people’s emotional well-being and how it’s changed over time. It’s pretty eye-opening stuff.

Bullying: The Facts…

So, here are our main findings from the last couple of years’ work in a nifty list of 21 things we bet you didn’t already know about bullying (pssst…if you did already know them, you probably heard it from us 😜).

Remember, if you are being bullied or you just have something you want to talk about, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

1. More than half of people under 25 have experienced bullying at some point.

facts about bullying, cyberbullying, stats, facts

2. 20% of people surveyed, said that they often experienced verbal bullying.

3. 24% of young people are worried about getting abuse online

4. People with a physical disability, are unfortunately more likely to experience bullying than a person without a physical disability. #NotCool

5. 5% of people surveyed, said that they constantly experienced physical bullying.

6. Social exclusion is a form of bullying. That means, when your mates leave you out on purpose to hurt your feelings, they are indirectly bullying you.

7. More than a third of people go on to develop Social Anxiety and Depression as a direct result of bullying.

8. Almost a quarter of those who have been bullied have had suicidal thoughts.

facts about bullying

9. Guys are more likely to bully someone than anyone else.

10.  Those who bully are far more likely to have experienced stressful and traumatic situations in recent times.

11. Of those who bullied daily, 58% had experienced the death of a relative.

12. Bullying is not an identity, it is a learnt behaviour – find out more about that here.

13. The #1 most common reason why people experience bullying is because of attitudes towards their appearance, with attitudes towards hobbies & interests and clothing coming in close at second and third place.

14. 69% of people have admitted to doing something abusive to another person online

15. 62% of people said they were bullied by a classmate

16. People who identify as LGBT+ are more likely to experience bullying.

Bullying is never, ever the fault of the person on the receiving end of it. Here’s why

What about Online?

17. 26% of people reported experiencing cyberbullying in the past 12-months. (2019)

18. More than a quarter of people have had suicidal thoughts as a result of cyberbullying.

facts about bullying

19. 35% of people have sent a screenshot of someone’s status to laugh at in a group chat. #ShadyOnlineBehaviour 

20. Almost two-thirds of people agreed that social networks don’t do enough to combat cyberbullying.

21. 44% of people under 25 said that ‘real-life’ means ‘only things that happen offline.’

And there you have it – 21 facts about bullying you probably never knew before.

All statistics are taken from Ditch the Label research.

If you are being bullied and need someone to talk to, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

Is it bullying?

The very fact that you’ve sought out this article to get some advice on your parents bullying you says that yes, it is definitely bullying and you’re definitely not overreacting.

Emotional and mental bullying by parents is not uncommon and can take many forms.

For example:

  • Constantly commenting on your weight or appearance.
  • Emotionally blackmailing you into doing something or behaving a certain way
  • Repeatedly using demeaning or unkind language towards you
  • Telling you that you’re unwanted or useless
  • Saying that they don’t love you
  • Belittling you or humiliating you

These are all forms of emotional and verbal bullying, and many of them are also classed as abuse. You do not deserve this or have to put up with it, and you are not alone.

What can you do?

We are powerless over other people’s behaviour. Chances are, you won’t be able to make it stop. What you can do is cope with it in ways that minimise the impact of the abuse and protect your emotional wellbeing.

Here are a few things you can try:

  • Safe spaces – Establish a place that you can go to get away from it all. Whether that’s your bedroom, the garden, or a friend or relative’s house. It needs to be somewhere that is safe.
  • Try not to be manipulated – Parents who are bullying can sometimes make you feel like a burden. It is important to understand that you do not owe them anything. Try to gain some independence and in doing so, you empower yourself.
  • Strengthen other relationships – If you have a good relationship with another family members such as a sibling, aunt/uncle, or another parent then you should work on strengthening that relationship and building up a healthy level of trust. It doesn’t have to be family either; friends, neighbours and colleagues are good too.
  • In the heat of the moment, don’t engage – When it turns in to a heated argument and voices are raised, don’t respond. In doing so you completely disarm them. Simply remove yourself from the situation and seek out your safe space.
  • Understand that it won’t last forever – Soon enough, you’ll be able to move out, go to college/uni, begin full-time work and become fully independent. Hold on to that thought and put your all into your education and interests.
  • Note that you are not your parent’s problems – What we mean by this is that you should try not to let your parent’s problems affect your own life. It’s easy for us to be affected by things that happen in our home life, but remember that your parents don’t define your personality, you are your own person.
  • Seek out other support networks – family is often considered to be one of our main support networks but sometimes that just isn’t the case. There are so many other support networks out there full of people who truly care and want to help.
  • Speak to someone at school – Believe it or not, one of the amazing things about school and college, (aside from getting to hang with your BFFs every day) that many people don’t know is that there are trained professionals on hand to help you at any time, for free. They don’t necessarily have to be a teacher. You can talk to the person who works in the medical room, or reception, or head of the year’s office or a school counsellor.

Talk it out:

First things first is to understand that you are not the reason that this is happening. Sure, the bullying from your parents may feel pretty personal when it happens, but understand that the problem always lies with them, not you. It is never your fault.

No matter how lonely you might feel right now, understand that you are not alone. This is, unfortunately, something that loads of people have been through and go through every day.

The best thing you can do is talk to someone about it. Tell someone who is a trusted adult or even a friend who is your own age. Whether it’s a teacher, another family member, a sports coach, a care worker or a mate. People need to know what you’re up against and you’ll feel better expressing it to somebody else.

Finally, understand that we understand. We’re here for you no matter what is happening.

At Ditch the Label, we have digital mentors who can help you get through your problems. All you need to do is join the community to get advice. What’s more, is that you can also use this safe space to speak to other people who may have been through the same thing.

Join our Community to ask anonymous questions to our trained digital mentors.


Here are some additional places you can contact to talk things out with professional adults who care about your wellbeing:

The Samaritans – 116 123 (24 hour crisis prevention service)

NSPL (USA) – 1-800-273-8255 (24 hour crisis prevention service)  

Childline – 0800 1111 (Working to stop child abuse)

Young Minds – Mental Health support for young people

Befrienders – Worldwide list of crisis lines 


If you are in physical danger, or experiencing physical abuse or bullying at home it is really important that you speak to a trusted adult about it. You can reach out to any of the organisations above or talk to Ditch the Label, you are not alone ❤️

If you would prefer the easy to read version please click here.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool once we know how to use it effectively. Dr Valerie Mason-John has some valuable tips to remember when you’re experiencing bullying in-the-moment and how to minimise its effects in the aftermath.

When you are mindful, you learn to breathe fully into the body, you learn to become aware of sensations in the body. You also become aware of your thinking and learn to love yourself.

Believe it or not, mindfulness can protect us from the effects bullying.

Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start, here are some tips to get you going:

Where to start with mindfulness

1. Be assertive with breath

Focus on your breathing to assert your boundary. You may have to walk away from people calling you horrible names, and this may feel unpleasant in your body, just keep on walking, breathe and know that it will pass.

2. Become aware of your alarm bell

If your breath becomes ragged, hands become sticky, your tummy gurgling, body shaking, teeth chattering, these are warning signs to tell you that you are feeling uncomfortable. Leave, remove yourself at the first possible moment. Remember to listen to your body when it’s telling you something’s not right.

3. Thoughts

If you miss the unpleasant feelings in the body you may hear yourself thinking strange thoughts. Again, remove yourself at the first possible moment. You don’t have to be the target of someone’s bullying behaviour. You could even try an app, such as Headspace, to help ease these thoughts.

4. Your phone

If you receive an unwanted text. Breathe, and report it. Gossiping about it and sharing it with others allows it to take up too much space in your mind and will make matters worse. Find out how you can be more mindful whilst on your phone here.

5. The home

If you are at risk at home, it can be hard to find an environment to be mindful. Tell a teacher, speak to Ditch the Label, ask for help, and keep on telling someone until they listen.

6. Love

Learn to love yourself. When you practice mindfulness it will become easier to find the good in yourself.  This will make it much harder for bullying to affect you in the long term.

7. Threats

Don’t let threats stop you from telling someone what’s going on. Threats make you feel horrible in the body; nervous and scared. This is normal. Sure, it’s unpleasant but all the more reason to speak up and report it.

8. Repercussion

Sometimes it seems like when you do speak up, it can make matters worse. Maybe you have received more threats since you told someone and it’s normal to be scared of the repercussions. Remember that it will pass. Don’t let the fear be a reason not to speak up – overcoming bullying is a process and it won’t stop overnight, be patient.

9. Become aware of your body

Remember to stand tall, this doesn’t mean you have to be physically tall or big. It means you need to breathe, be confident, take up your space, and try to be assertive. Understand that you don’t deserve to be treated badly and it is never your fault. Believe in yourself.

Dr Valerie Mason-John M.A (hon.doc) is one of the new leading African descent voices in the field of Mindfulness. She is also a performance Poet-activist. Hear her TEDx talk and visit her website www.valeriemason-john.com


Got any tips of your own?

Share them in our anonymous Community where people can really benefit from your help.

Anti Bullying Resources for Teachers

Ditch the Label are proud to offer free teaching resources for teachers to help tackle bullying and its root issues.

Our education website www.dtled.org hosts a whole programme of lessons for students aged 11-18 which focus on key areas such as bullying, gender stereotypes and digital literacy.

We’ve included some highlights below, as well as two exclusive assemblies which are only available here…

Lessons:

Here are a selection of lessons from our Education Programme that addresses bullying and why it happens:

Behind the Bully

This lesson explores the root causes of bullying behaviour and encourages students to reflect on why people feel the need to bully others. It pushes high ability students to consider potential methods of combating bullying through tackling the root causes.

Don’t @ Me

This lesson asks students to examine their own online behaviours and understand the consequences of some of their actions. It allows them room to explore the subjectivity of cyberbullying behaviour and reinforces their responsibilities regarding their behaviour towards others online.

What you looking at?

This lesson encourages students to explore their own behaviour when it comes to witnessing bullying and offers them guidance and encouragement to intervene in bullying situations, when appropriate.

Assemblies:

These assemblies are a great way to kickstart conversations around bullying in your school. They can be delivered by teachers or students as part of Anti-Bullying Week or at any time of the year.

Challenging Attitudes

A fully scripted assembly which challenges current attitudes and approaches to bullying, through analysis of current data.

Debunking the Myths

A fully scripted assembly which explores the myths which surround bullying, and what people can do to deal with some of the issues they might face.

Visit The Education Website

For more resources on bullying and much more, check out our education website dtled.org. Our lessons on bullying, digital literacy and gender stereotypes include everything from how to destress, to the impact of social media on self-esteem, and how gender stereotypes affect careers.

The resources are all completely free, digital and available for teachers across the country to download.


Anti-Bullying Week 2019

Anti-Bullying Week 2019 runs between Monday 11th November – Friday 15th November 2019.

Our research shows that 1 in 2 young people will, at some point, experience bullying. As a result, 1 in 3 will self-harm, grades will drop and 14% will develop eating disorders. Getting students engaged in activities, assemblies and lessons can be a really effective way to start conversations about bullying and the impact it can have.

We recommend a whole week of activities to generate school engagement around bullying.

  • Monday: Anti-Bullying Week Assembly
  • Tuesday: All students participate in The Annual Bullying Survey
  • Wednesday: Lunch-time fundraising activities
  • Thursday: PSHE lesson on Bullying
  • Friday: Tutor-time anti-bullying activity

The Annual Bullying Survey

Taking part in The Annual Bullying Survey makes for an ideal activity during Anti-Bullying Week.

It is the largest annual benchmark of bullying in the UK and each year, secondary schools, high schools and colleges from across the country take part, enabling us to better understand the dynamics and nature of bullying.

Students will need approximately 30 minutes to participate in the online survey, and we highly recommend that ALL your students take part.

Click here to register your interest

Fundraising Activities

As part of Anti-Bullying Week, many schools choose to run fundraising activities to fund vital support for those who are experiencing bullying. Or learn more about our flagship Anti-Bullying Week Fundraiser – Give It Up for Ditch the Label.

Here are 5 ways your school could get involved and raise money for Ditch the Label or download a printable version to use in your classroom this Anti-Bullying Week.

  • Go silent – give up your voice for the day in return for sponsorship. We know nearly 50% of young people who are bullied never tell anyone, not a teacher, not a parent, not a friend – everything you raise will help us reach more young people affected by bullying and give them back their voice.
  • Get active – organise a sports match & charge an entry fee. Football, netball, rugby, volleyball, whatever you like playing. You could even go for a staff v student match to for the ultimate grudge match! If everyone pays an entry fee it’s a really simple way to raise funds for Ditch the Label.
  • Go on a (digital) holiday – give up technology to raise sponsorship. At Ditch the Label, we’re all about the digital, but we know that a digital detox can sometimes give people a much-needed break from social media. Whether it’s for a day, or for a whole week, it’s a great way to raise money.
  • Hold a pop-up shop – refresh your wardrobe and raise money. Ask everyone to have a clear-out and donate their once loved items to a pop-up clothes shop. Give your favourite old clothes the chance to be loved again – and raise money for us in the process.
  • Keep it classic – the most common fundraisers can be the most successful. For example, a non-uniform day and a cake sale are really easy and simple ways to get your school involved in fundraising.

(Not enough ideas? Check out another 96 on our 101 fundraising ideas here: https://www.ditchthelabel.org/101-fundraising-ideas/)


More Anti-Bullying Week Activities

If you’re not looking for full lesson plans or assemblies, here are a selection of other activities which you could use this week.

1. Help students understand the hidden part of bullying (30 mins)

We know from our extensive work with young people that nobody is ever born with an intent to bully others. Bullying is often a behaviour that is used to cope with a traumatic and stressful situation – it could be that the student is having a difficult time at home or is being bullied themselves elsewhere. Those who bully tend to have low self-esteem and confidence issues and just want to be accepted. We would never call anybody a ‘bully’ because it certainly isn’t their identity, it is just a behaviour that needs to change.

We’ve produced an emotional video to encourage students to think differently about bullying and to build their understanding as to some common reasons why people bully. Start the activity by showing the video and follow it with a discussion about the key themes in the video, opening up to the bigger picture: exploring key reasons why people bully others.
Click here for the video
Click here for more reasons why people bully others

2. Use Ditch the Label statistics in a quiz (30 mins)

Each year, we produce some of the most comprehensive research papers surrounding the issue of bullying and related factors. This activity is designed to help students understand the landscape of bullying and to encourage them to speak up about issues that are bothering them.

The activity should take approximately 30 minutes, which includes a discussion of the results afterwards.
Click here for the question sheet
Click here for the answer sheet

Alternatively, you can direct your students to our research area, they can pick a research paper and create their own quiz based on the statistics in their chosen report.

3. Create a poster, using less than 140 characters (30 mins)

This activity works best in conjunction with a starter activity – such as the Ditch the Label Quiz, this is because it will equip students with a better understanding of bullying and will act as an icebreaker and will fuel inspiration. Students are given the task of designing a new anti-bullying poster for your school. The catch? They are not allowed to use more than 140 characters on their poster, so they need to choose their words wisely. This can be done either in pairs or as a group task.

This activity can also be run as a school/college-wide competition with the winning entry being produced and displayed around the school.
Examples of posters

4. Teach students to reprogram their stress (50 mins)

Stress is the number 1 killer and is something that troubles us all. We know that bullying massively increases the amount of stress young people face, which can go on to impact grade performance, health and general moods. We have developed a tool to help students rationalise and reduce stress in a simple, digestible way.

This task should be done in pairs only. Each person should need approximately 15-20 minutes to talk about things that are bothering them, and with the help of their partner – better rationalise and deal with those issues. With time to complete the entire task, introduction and evaluation afterwards – this task would typically take 50 minutes.
Click here to download instructions and the packs

5. Take part in The Annual Bullying Survey (20 mins)

Each year, we work with schools and colleges across the country to help them better understand the landscape and extent of bullying within their environment. We produce The Annual Bullying Survey, which is the most comprehensive annual benchmark of bullying in the UK.

The survey is conducted online and will survey students on their experiences of bullying, whilst exploring their wider social lives, experiences and attitudes. Taking part is completely free and it takes students approximately 20 minutes to complete the survey.
Click here to find out more information

6. Use role-play (30 mins)

This activity works particularly well in conjunction with activity 1 and could be used as a tool to further explore the reasons why people bully others.

Task students to work in small groups to role-play different bullying-related scenarios and then invite the rest of the class to give their feedback and advice on how to deal with the situations. Examples include:

  • Example 1: Student A is sending Student B abuse on Instagram. Student C sees the abuse but isn’t really sure what to do. The issue continues in school when Student A encourages Student C to say nasty things to Student B.
  • Example 2: Student A is having a difficult time at home – their parents are arguing a lot and their pet just passed away. In response, Student A feels angry and has nobody to talk to. They take their anger out on Student B and is disruptive in class. Student C, who is a friend of Student A witnesses everything. What could they do to help?

7. Create a list of top tips (30 mins)

This activity works particularly well in conjunction with activities 1 and 2. Ask students to work in pairs or small groups to come up with their top 10 tips on how to overcome bullying. Ask the students to share their tips with the rest of the class.

You will find that there will be a lot of repetition and overlap, so as the facilitator, note down the top 10 most commonly used tips and then use them to produce a classroom charter.

Looking for free anti-bullying lesson plans? Click on the image to see our DTL:ED resources!

Join our Community

We have a growing online community where young people can anonymously log in and share their problems. On the Ditch the Label community there are opportunities for people to speak to and share advice amongst themselves as well as speaking directly with a trained digital mentor.

The service is absolutely free and operates as a judgement-free zone.

Why not spend the last 10 mins of your lesson encouraging your students to take a look around?

Are you feeling anxious after being bullied? You’re not alone.

Ditch the Label research revealed that 37% of people surveyed in the Annual Bullying Survey developed social anxiety as a direct result of bullying.

percentage of people feeling anxious after being bullied

Social anxiety can vary from a bit of nervousness around new people to a crippling inability to connect with anyone in a social situation.

It is described as a fear of social situations that involve interactions with other people. Sounds pretty scary on the surface, but the good news is that it is possible to completely overcome social anxiety with a bit of help and guidance.

For more information on social anxiety, the NHS website has some great information.

It’s no surprise that experiences of bullying can lead to issues such as social anxiety and depression. Bullying is also proven to have negative effects on the self-esteem and confidence of the person experiencing it too which just goes to show how serious the effects of bullying can be.

There are some measures you can take to ease up your anxiety, but this does involve slowly creeping out of your comfort zone at a pace that you are comfortable with, so you have to approach it with an open mind and a will for change. Well, no one said it would be easy, right!? 

Fear not, anxious friends. We at Ditch the Label are here to help you make sure you don’t miss out on another party, football match or day out again!

Relax

We know you’re probably rolling your eyes at this one… easier said than done right!? There’s nothing worse than someone telling you to “relax” or “chill out” when you’re feeling anxious. If only it was that easy!  That’s like telling someone to just change their eye colour or to be taller! Try some of these relaxation techniques for when you feel stress and tension creeping up on you.

If it’s a particular event that’s giving you bad anxiety, think about yourself at the event before you go. Picture yourself there, having a conversation, having a laugh, chatting to people – this will help you to visualise your actions when you’re there.

Look outwards

Often, when we’re anxious we are constantly looking in on ourselves. How we feel, how we look, how we sound, how we appear to other people. We obsess over how we are being perceived so we begin to overthink everything about ourselves… try looking outwards instead. Take in the behaviour of those around you, what they’re saying and doing, how are they standing or what are they doing with their hands? What is the room like or how is the view out the window?

Once you start focussing on other things besides your own worries and insecurities, you’ll start to relax and realise that in new situations, most people are a little awkward too.

Follow us on Instagram for a daily dose of positivity, inspiration and good vibes! 🌈

Practise mindfulness

This leads on nicely to this next point – mindfulness! It works wonders for people with anxiety and there are some really simple things you can do to ease up those anxious feelings. …

Mindful breathing: Focus all of your attention on your breathing for one minute. Breath in through your nose, out through your mouth and try to let go of the thoughts which are bugging you. Concentrate on the sensation in your nose and chest as you fill your lungs with air and how it feels when you let it go. Once that minute is over, those worrying thoughts will feel a little less foreboding, guaranteed.

Observation: Spend one minute (or more) focusing on something in your immediate surroundings. Like the wind, some grass or a plant. Take in every detail about it; how it looks, what shape it is, how it feels, how it moves, the colour of it, how it stands or sits… you get the idea. When other thoughts creep into your mind, brush them aside and concentrate solely on your chosen object.

Colouring! Nope, colouring is not just for five-year-olds (true story). The benefits of colouring are endless! Not only does it calm us down when we are stressed, it works as a really handy distraction from worries and anxieties, enhances our focus and concentration, improves motor skills and has therapeutic effects, helping us to get rid of negativity.

Try these out next time you’re feeling particularly anxious or tell us your own mindful techniques in the comments!

Challenge yourself

Try to take daily steps to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Start as small as asking someone for the time and go from there. No one is born fearless, courage is something that you build up as you learn to manage your fear. Check out this article on social anxiety for more tips.

Don’t hide away

No matter how much you want to just hide from the world, try not to lock yourself in your room for days on end. As hard as it seems at this time, its really important that you socialise in real life and get a good balance between on and offline interaction. This can be in the form of joining a team, doing a sports activity or becoming a member of an extracurricular club.

With the internet at our fingertips, it’s really easy to visit digital hangouts and make loads of online mates. This is a great thing in theory, but it’s not doing wonders for our confidence offline with a significant rise in reported loneliness over recent years. It’s pretty ironic that as a society we are more connected than ever, yet we are in the midst of a loneliness epidemic! Don’t forget to come up for air to make some human contact from time to time! The more you do, the more your confidence will grow and your anxiety will subside.

Fear of rejection

Something which makes a lot of people anxious is a fear of rejection.  Really, whats the worst that can happen if you do get rejected?! Chances are, not much!

The more we worry about what other people think of us the more we end up suppressing our true selves, and that’s no fun at all! The best way to feel confident is to say “f*** what other people” think, embrace your weirdness and just do you 🙃

Join the Ditch the Label community and start a conversation –  no judgement, no wrong answer, no wrong questions!

join the ditch the label community, mobile, phone, screenshot

Over the years, Ditch the Label have written many guides and support articles to help you face and deal with bullying. One of the core pieces of advice that we give is the importance of sharing what you are going through and being honest with someone you trust.

For so many of us, that in itself feels like the impossible thought and is a major stumbling block in getting the help and support we deserve.

So, why is it so damn hard to just open our mouths and talk about being bullied?

Shame.

Shame is as toxic and erosive as acid. It causes immeasurable damage to our wellbeing and is one of the biggest offenders for why we silence ourselves in the face of being bullied, coming out, or dealing with mental health issues.

The bottom line is when we feel shame, what we are thinking is ‘I AM BAD’ not ‘something bad happened to me’ or I did something bad, shame sends the message YOU are bad.

The difference is huge and guess what the antidote for shame is? To talk about it, to share it, to out it, and I promise you it will begin to lessen.

Don’t let shame silence you, you are too important.

Embarrassment.

Embarrassment is another biggie for why we don’t feel able to talk about the big stuff like being bullied – for this one, we have our egos to thank.

Our egos can’t stand being embarrassed and will do anything to stop this happening including keeping our mouths shut. But how unfair is that?

When something happens that is out of our control, our egos pipe up with ‘better keep that one quiet’ and not tell anyone. You have nothing to be embarrassed about so always share your problems!

Fear.

Fear has a lot to answer. It’s a fundamental reason for why we all keep quiet and don’t tell anyone what’s going on. It can be a suffocating emotion that quickly takes over if we let it. Fear, like embarrassment, doesn’t want to be discussed and distorts our thinking.

Living in fear and silence can be a living hell. So if there is something you are just too scared to talk about it with anyone, contact us here. There will be no judgement, just support.

girl, lady, hat, blue, hair, sunglasses, cold, coat, garage door

Denial.

Denial has most definitely earned itself a place on this list. When we deny something is going on in our lives either unconsciously or consciously we stop ourselves from getting much-needed help.

Every time we kid ourselves that the bullying isn’t that bad or try to handle it alone, it comes at a price. Really ask yourself, is staying quiet and denying it worth your future happiness?

All denial can ever offer is a pause button from facing reality and never a way to fully get through it.

Isolation.

Being bullied is a very lonely experience. It leaves you feeling exposed and singled out. This feeling of isolation is exactly what can stop us from talking about it.

The more alone we feel in what we are going through, the less we want to ask for help.

If you are reading this and there is something going on that you haven’t told anyone. Join our online community and post your questions anonymously in a safe space that’s just for you.

Blame.

One of the biggest reasons why we can struggle to talk about being bullied and share what’s going on is blame. We very easily begin to think that we are the problem and it is our fault. We blame ourselves and internalize all the negativity.

Being bullied is never your fault. Please don’t let that kind of thinking stop you from telling someone close to you.


If you are being bullied, you do not need to go through it alone.

If you ever need help, Ditch the Label is here for you. You can contact us here or for more help, join our community.

We’ve partnered with Simple who’ve teamed up with Little Mix to take a stand against online hate and bullying, wipe away unkind words and empower everyone to #ChooseKindness. We caught up with Little Mix about the campaign and their experiences with online hate.

DTL: Obviously, you guys get a lot of crap in the press about what you wear and your message, have you found the same online? 

Perrie – ‘It’s always online. The majority of the stick that we get comes from social media, from people behind their computer screens, their phone screens. In the comments section of articles and stuff, it’s just all the time.’

DTL: Who’s got the best clapbacks to that kind of stuff?

Leigh-Anne – ‘Jade definitely! She always knows what to say!’

DTL: A lot of young people deal with online abuse every day – what would you say to them? 

Perrie – ‘It’s really hard because when people are being cruel online, it’s hard to deal with. When you are not that kind of person and someone is acting that way, you just don’t know why someone would want to say something nasty or cruel. You just have to stay confident in yourself, and maybe try to talk to someone close who will listen to you.’ 

DTL: Did you ever used to look at negative comments online about yourselves? 

Jade – ‘Oh yeah. I think we’ve all been guilty of looking at the comments, and I think at one point we used to obsess over it, and that’s obviously a really unhealthy way to live your life. It’s how you start to get more insecure about yourself, and over the years we’ve really learnt how to not let that negativity in, and how bad that was for us. It’s now kind of out of sight, out of mind – we try not to read it any more. It’s great that Instagram lets you block words and things you don’t want to see. It helps us surround ourselves with much more positive stuff.’ 

DTL: The photoshoot you guys did for ‘Strip’ deals with a lot of this – what would you say is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you that you remember?

Leigh Anne – ‘I think for me if anyone has ever said ‘you are not good enough’ or has questioned my ability. Like if you do a bum note and people comment on that, or you miss a dance move. It happens! But it does really stick in my mind because it’s just questioning if you are good at what you do.’

DTL: Recently, you guys have started to talk about your struggles with mental health – what made you want to start talking about it? 

Perrie – ‘I think it’s because we’re in a good place right now, and when you are in a good headspace, you can talk about these things a little easier. Hopefully, it will just help someone else out there who has gone through the same thing.’

DTL: Why is talking about it so important? How can we all start talking about it more? 

Jade – ‘I think the more you talk about it, the more everyone does, it starts to normalise it. It becomes a less taboo subject to talk about and in doing so, helps a lot of people. I think for a lot of time, mental health wasn’t really spoken about enough, and could escalate because no one spoke about it. 

Jesy – ‘Yeah and I think the more you talk about it, it’s like a weight being lifted off your shoulders. I think especially with social media, we have this huge platform which we want to use to talk about this kind of stuff and be positive. I guess we hope it would help combat some of the negativity online as well.’ 

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DTL: Do you think the stuff you’ve had to deal with online has contributed to this? 

Jade – ‘I think one of the main reasons I wanted to talk about it more is, you come out the other side of dealing with this stuff, and when you’re in a better place you want to. Also I think we are being listened to more, and people are starting to take notice and understand how much of an impact big artists can have, and we hope it can only help.’ 

DTL: What do you think can or should be done to deal with online abuse? How can we make the internet a more positive place? 

Perrie – ‘In real life, rather than online, if you see somebody in the street, you’d be more likely to compliment them than scream at them. We think a compliment goes a long way. We just believe in making people feel good about themselves. Instead of tearing somebody down and throwing negative stuff at them 24/7; pick them up and make them feel amazing! It’s the same online, reach out to people and let them know how great you think they are instead of being negative.’

Leigh Anne – ‘More needs to be done by other people to combat it too. Like there should be more moderation from platforms and stuff. And maybe bigger consequences for people that do it often, because the consequences for those that go through it can be huge, the biggest.’ 

Jade – ‘Yeah the effect that it has on people’s mental health can be massive, and there seems like there isn’t enough being done by everyone at the moment to stop it from happening. 

DTL: What would you say to someone who posts the negative stuff online? 

Jade – ‘The majority of the time, the people are spreading hate online have a lot of issues themselves in their personal lives. It takes a lot of energy to go out of your way to be awful to somebody else, so obviously the root of that is them feeling crap about themselves. So, they need to talk to someone, get some help, find a way of channelling all that energy into something positive. 

Jesy – ‘It’s so much easier to be kind’.

DTL: What do you think they can learn from the #choosekindness campaign?

Perrie – ‘I think, just be kind. That’s the vibe. I don’t think a troll really realises what impact they have on people when they say something nasty, even if it’s in passing for them. The impact of it really has to be understood, and the campaign will hopefully do that, and empower people to be kinder.’

DTL: In the spirit of #choosekindess, what’s the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? 

Leigh-Anne – ‘The kindest thing, for me, would be the girls and how they are such a positive support system in my life. When I come to work, I know I have three friends to come to. That’s a really nice feeling.’

Watch how Little Mix wipe away unkind words and check out the video from the #ChooseKindness campaign below


We’ve teamed up with Simple who have teamed up with Little Mix to tackle online hate. For more information on #ChooseKindness, click here

worried about a mate

It’s not always easy to tell when someone’s going through a hard time. Especially if they’re purposely trying to cover something up. As humans, we have become experts at pretending we’re ok, even when we’re not.

We’re often too proud, or too scared to ask for help. We’re so quick to assume that people have their own problems to deal with, we ask ourselves, “why would they want to hear about my problems??!”

The truth is, we need to be better at looking after each other…

Are they acting strange?

So, whatever the problem might be – if you’re worried about a mate, here are some signs you can look out for that might indicate that they need help:

  • Sudden weight loss/gain
  • Not sleeping
  • Not washing/taking care of their personal hygiene
  • Visible physical injuries
  • A sudden change in moods which go from one extreme to the other
  • Appearing depressed, down in the dumps or sad all the time
  • Making excuses for not hanging out or socialising*
  • Lying about where they are going/what they are doing
  • Unusual body language
  • Acting out of character
  • Actively pushing you away
  • Not reply to texts/calls
  • Going out of their way to pretend they are fine, after a traumatic or upsetting event
    Not wanting to talk about things which  you know are bugging them
  • Not wanting to go home

*bare in mind that it can be any combination of these things. Some of them, when on their own might seem like nothing out of the ordinary, but remember to keep your eyes out for other signs that might indicate that something’s up.

Talk it out

Whatever the problem is, chances are, it’ll manifest itself in one of the ways listed above and the very best way to deal with it is to tell you’re friend that you think something’s up. Make sure they know that you’re all ears if they do want to talk. If they don’t want to talk to you about it, you can’t make them speak up.

Instead, try encouraging them to speak anonymously to Ditch the Label. Send the link below in a message and explain that they can access impartial and non-judgmental help from a digital mentor:

They can either post their query anonymously to the community, or message a digital mentor directly. Simply log in, click ‘messages’, and select a mentor to speak to.

Don’t take the risk

It can be difficult to determine whether things like self-harm or talk about suicide is a ‘call for help’ or a genuine attempt or risk. The truth is, it doesn’t actually make a difference because either way, your mate needs help. Never dismiss a suicide reference or threat. It really can be the difference between life and death.

The first and most important thing to do is to speak to a trusted adult about your concerns, especially if your friend is in crisis. Alternatively, you can refer them to the following helplines if they are willing to talk. If not, contact them yourself on behalf of your mate:

are you being cyber bullied?

Cyberbullying comes in a whole range of different shapes and sizes and is something that is totally subjective to the person being cyberbullied.

From our research on cyberbullying, we found that up to 7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying before the age of 18.

Ditch the Label defines cyberbullying as the following:

Cyberbullying is the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody.

– Ditch the Label

We all spend a ridiculous amount of time online. With the internet in your pocket, in school, at work and at home, it is impossible to escape it. That’s why being bullied online can be absolutely rubbish, and can make it feel impossible to live your life. We have put together this so you can understand everything you need to know about cyberbullying and where you can get help if you need it. 

What are the different types of cyberbullying?

Examples of cyberbullying include:

  • Nasty messages online or on your mobile phone
  • Comments or replies on your social media posts or posts about you
  • Being excluded from online group chats on purpose
  • Embarrassing or harmful photos being put online without your permission
  • Sending offensive pictures through a messaging app
  • Rumours and lies about you on a website, messaging app or social media platform
  • Offensive chat or voice communication on an online game
  • Fake online profiles being created with an intent to defame you

If you are experiencing cyberbullying or you know someone who is, check out our Top 9 Tips For Dealing With Cyberbullying or visit our Community to talk to a trained digital mentor who can help you with what to do next.


Are you being Cyberbullied?

Asking yourself the following questions can help you determine whether you’re being cyberbullied:

  • Are you on the receiving end of hurtful comments online?
  • Is someone persistently bothering you on social media?
  • Have you ever been threatened by someone you know online?
  • Do people spread gossip or rumours about you on the internet?
  • Has a picture of you been shared without your consent?
  • Have you been hacked or impersonated online?
  • Are you being blackmailed online?

Are you looking to prevent cyberbullying?

Anybody can become a recipient of cyberbullying, regardless of how old they are or the kind of job that they do or what their hobbies might be. It is never anything to do with you.


Cyberbullying Statistics

From our research, we found that up to 7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying before the age of 18.

Taken from The Annual Bullying Survey, Ditch the Label

  • 7 out of 10 young people have been victims of cyberbullying.
  • 37% of young people have experienced cyberbullying on a highly frequent basis
  • 20% of young people have experienced extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis
  • Young people are found to be twice as likely to be bullied on Instagram than on any other social network.
  • 54% of young people using Facebook reported that they have experienced bullying on the network.
  • 28% of young people using Twitter reported that they have experienced bullying on the network.
  • Cyberbullying is found to have catastrophic effects on the self-esteem and social lives of up to 69% of young people.
  • An estimated 5.43 million young people in the UK have experienced cyberbullying with 1.26 million subjected to extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis.
  • New research shows that young males and females are equally at risk.

Taken from The Wireless Report, Ditch the Label

  • 37% 13 – 25-year-olds have sent a naked photo of themselves (63% to a boyfriend/girlfriend and 32% to someone they are attracted to)
  • 30% of 15 yr olds have sent a naked photo of themselves at least once
  • 15% of 13 & 14 yr olds have sent a naked photo of themselves at least once
  • 5% of 13-year-olds send naked photos several times a week.
  • 24% have sent a naked photo to someone they know only online.
  • 24% have had a naked photo shared without their consent.
  • 49% believe is just harmless fun.
  • 16% said it’s the normal thing to do.
  • 13% felt pressurised into doing it.
  • Females are twice as likely to send a naked photo of themselves more than once a week than men.
  • 62% have been sent nasty private messages via smartphone apps
  • 52% have never reported the abuse they have received.
  • 47% have received nasty profile comments
  • 40% have received nasty photo comments.
  • 42% have received hate-based comments (racism, homophobia etc.)
  • 28% have had personal information shared without consent.
  • 52% have never reported abuse on smartphone apps
  • 26% felt like it wasn’t taken seriously when reported
  • 49% experienced a loss in confidence as a result of the bullying
  • 28% retaliated and sent something abusive back
  • 24% turned to self-harm as a coping mechanism
  • 22% tried to change their appearance to avoid further abuse
  • 13% stopped using the app

What Does The Law Say?

As cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon, the UK courts are still trying to catch up with it and sentence offenders effectively. Though no laws specifically apply to cyberbullying alone, there are several laws which can be applied in cyberbullying cases:

  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
  • Malicious Communications Act 1988
  • Communications Act 2003
  • Breach of the Peace (Scotland)
  • Defamation Act 2013

In 2012 The Crown Prosecution Service published guidelines on how cyberbullying cases would be assessed against current laws, which you can find here.

On January 1st 2014, the Defamation Act 2013 came into order and can be read here.

Cyber Bullying Prosecutions

Cyberbullying cases can often go unreported by victims for fear of what people may say, and indeed this was an issue faced by Nicola Brookes, who was remorselessly cyberbullied after posting a message of support on Frankie Cocozza’s Facebook page. After taking evidence to the Police with no success, she took her case to the High Court and won a battle with Facebook to have her bullies’ names revealed. You can read more about the story here. The case was a landmark battle, as for the first time it meant a website had to release members’ details, opening them up for prosecution.

Trolls are increasingly being taken to court and if found guilty, given fines and facing jail terms. Two people who sent abusive messages towards Caroline Criado-Perez were jailed for 8 weeks and 12 weeks and were ordered to pay £800 in fines.

A website owner will generally be responsible for content posted on the website, meaning that if a defamatory comment (or series of comments) exists on a website, the site’s owner can be taken to court – this is how Nicola Brookes was able to get information about her trolls from Facebook. Alternatively, it may be possible to take the troll themselves to court, as has been seen in the case of Caroline Criado-Perez. As with any court case, the evidence is essential and it’s important to catalogue any abuse you may receive. KnowtheNet has produced a helpful infographic on how to interact on the internet, and you can see it here.

On a different note, after boxer Curtis Woodhouse had been trolled by the same account on Twitter for months, he put a bounty on the address of his assailant and visited the troll’s house to solicit an apology from him. Though this isn’t advised, it’s a good example of how cowardly bullies are when the tables are turned.

Reporting Cyberbullying

Reporting Cyberbullying on Facebook

 How to report and remove a post
–  On the post that you want to report/remove, click on the arrow icon in the top right hand side and select I don’t like this post.
–  When the window pops open just click the appropriate reason for removing the post.
–  Then you are given the options on how to proceed. You are given plenty of options to choose from.
–  Once you have gone through this short process, you will have several options on how to proceed including blocking the person who made the original post and making a complaint to Facebook.

Blocking a User
–  You can still block users by going to their Facebook page. Once on their profile page go to the top right corner and click on the button to the right of the messages button.
–  You now have the option to report or block them.

Dealing with Abusive Messages
–  If you are using the chatbox then click on the options logo in the right corner followed by Report as Spam or Abuse…
–  If you are in your inbox, select the message that you want to get rid of or report from the left-hand column by clicking on it.
–  Click on Actions at the top of your screen and select Report as Spam or Abuse…
–  Three options will appear so just click on the one that is appropriate.

Reporting Cyberbullying on Twitter

Blocking a user through a Tweet
–  On the tweet that you want to block, click on the more (…) icon at the bottom of the Tweet and click Block.

Blocking a user through a profile
–  Go to the profile page of the user you want to block.
–  Click on the options icon next to the follow button and select block.
–  You can also report users by completing these same steps.

Reporting Cyberbullying on Instagram

Reporting Content or a User
–  Click on the options arrow either on a post or the users profile and click report.

Getting Further Support

Whether you’re being cyberbullied yourself or know somebody that is, help is at hand. Visit our help section for more information or join the Ditch the Label community today.

Research papers

If you want to learn more about bullying-related trends, behaviours and attitudes across the past six years. We’ve got loads of research for you to read!