When I was first given the opportunity to write for Ditch the Label back in February, one of my first ideas was for an article like this. However, back then I had got it all wrong.

This September (two and a half weeks ago at the time of writing) I started Sixth Form at a brand new school, and it has completely refreshed my perspective on the friendships I had before.

You see, back in February, I wasn’t as happy as I thought. I was fine, on the whole–I did well at school, enjoyed studying all my GCSE subjects (and when I say this I am NOT counting Maths), had supportive, easy to talk to teachers and was, on the whole, doing pretty well. 

However, no matter the learning environment provided by the school, or how engaging and supportive the teachers are, the one thing they cannot control, which is super important to any teenager in school, is who you sit with at lunch. This simple aspect of the day felt like it would then dictate who you hang out with at breaktime, and leave with after school, and gossip in lessons with. When you don’t have that, it can make school feel very isolating. 

When I walked into the dining hall in Year 10, I would be unsure where my place was. At break time, I hung around the common room occasionally chiming into the conversation, but not feeling hugely wanted by people. In lessons I would studiously pay attention to the teacher, and I never seemed to have people to meet up with outside of school.

I don’t have trouble making friends–I formed solid friendships with students in the years above and below. It wasn’t that the other students were nasty to me either–in lessons, I got along with the other kids in my classes just fine, and was able to have friendly conversations and work well as a group. But I was never able to form a proper, lasting relationship with anyone in my year group. Contrary to everything I had heard about what secondary school was meant to be like, I hadn’t found my crowd.

When I had the idea of writing this in February, I got it all wrong. Back then, I wanted to write what was pretty much a step-by-step guide for other kids in this situation. I wanted to write something that would show me how I could get myself out of that situation, and to feel less alone. But now I realise that that sort of guide doesn’t, and can’t, exist. 

The most important words of wisdom I can give for anyone who feels out of place, lonely, or like they just don’t fit in at school, is that you are not alone

We are sold this idea of our school days being ‘the best days of our lives’, filled with stupid pranks, teenage parties and raucous days out. The truth is, that doesn’t happen for all of us. Some don’t want to, and that’s perfectly fine. But for those of us who do, we can sometimes get hooked on the idea of the ‘typical teenage experience’. 

First of all, it’s worth noting that the way the world works for our generation is completely different to our parent’s generation–teenagers in our day have far more parental restriction than the generations before us, and the way we socialise nowadays is completely different to the days pre-social media. Now, we communicate primarily online, and there are fewer teenager-friendly spaces in our towns and cities. 

Secondly, having spoken to several adults about my situation at school, I’ve gathered evidence that school never seems to be the best days of anyone’s lives. There are so many things that make being a teenager kind of suck – school pressures, strict teachers, not to mention the fact that almost nothing you can do is independent. The best is yet to come! You have so many more adventures and exciting experiences ahead of you, this is only the start of what will be a long and exciting life.

And most importantly, no matter what, you will eventually find your tribe. Some people find their crowd at sixth form. For most, from what I’ve heard, it’s at university or even later in adult life. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. You are still SO young, and have so much time to live your life the way you always dreamed. The point is, you will grow, you will learn, and you will find people you feel safe with. Friendships are really important and special, but most of the relationships you form will not be solely from the first 18 years of your life – it gets SO much better as you learn more about yourself and the environments you thrive most in. 

And just remember, you are NOT the only one who feels this way. You are not alone if you feel like you can’t make any friends. It feels like everyone else fits in, but there are other people, just like you, who haven’t found their place yet. Let’s face it, school isn’t a hospitable place for most people regardless of how big your entourage is. If you haven’t found it yet, it’s just a sign that the best is still to come. It’s normal to not have any real friends while you’re in school, and to make them at university instead, or even much later in life. It’s perfectly normal and okay to just go through your teenage years, and come out at the other end, not having had any life-fulfilling experiences yet, but having emerged unharmed.

Above all, once you exit this page, I hope something you take away from this article is that your experience is just as valid as anyone else’s. Your time will come, and I promise you won’t always have to feel as lonely as you might do right now. Trust me, I speak from experience – the best is waiting for you very soon. 

If you feel like you need to talk to someone about not fitting in at school, you can reach out to our Community here for confidential and free support and advice.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Bullying is something that can happen at any age, and overcoming it can be one of the hardest things to do. Bullying can make you feel alone, scared and worthless. In fact, more than a third of people go on to develop social anxiety and depression as a direct result of bullying.

If you’re being bullied then you’re not the only one. In fact, almost half of us have at some point been bullied. As a leading global youth charity, we’re here to help you overcome bullying once and for all.

Are you being bullied?

“Just ignore it”, is what most people are told when they’re being bullied, or maybe “they’re only jealous” – but what use is that when you’re hurting and it’s making you feel bad about yourself?

“Tell a teacher” is sometimes good advice but what happens when your teachers don’t do anything? What if you’ve already told a teacher and it just got worse?

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back…

Top 10 tips for dealing with bullying

1. Understand the bullying

Bullying is a learnt behaviour. There are several reasons why people bully others; more often than not, bullying can be a coping mechanism for people who are going through a stressful or traumatic situation and it may also be learnt from abuse or prejudice-based attitudes at home.

Often people who bully others have at some point been bullied themselves or are currently being bullied.

Other reasons for bullying can include issues such as jealousy and insecurity – we know this because we work directly with people who bully so we can help them understand and overcome their negative behaviours. If you are being bullied, please know that you are NOT the problem.

If you are bullying somebody else, please speak up about it – get help on our Community here.

2. If you feel safe enough: speak to the person who is bullying you

Have you ever said something to a friend and upset them by accident? Chances are, it has probably happened loads of times. It’s a similar thing with bullying as the definition, by default is subjective – meaning that everybody has a different threshold of what they consider to be bullying. Sometimes, the person who is bullying you may genuinely have no idea that it is affecting you.

Equally, they are probably going through a difficult time themselves and will relate to how you’re feeling. This is why we have found that speaking to the person who is bullying you can be really effective. If this is something you’d consider, read this first.

3. Never go through it in silence

When you’re going through a stressful or difficult situation, it can clog your mind and fog your vision. This leads to people becoming distracted, stressed and unproductive. Bullying is something that affects so many people’s lives, but many people will never report it through embarrassment, fear or a lack of faith in support systems.

It is incredibly important that you go through the appropriate reporting channels by firstly telling a teacher/parent/guardian/learning mentor or another responsible adult. You can also contact us for advice and support. Even if you don’t want to report it, speak to somebody and don’t feel like you have to go through it alone because you don’t.

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4. Is it a crime?

Bullying is a behaviour but some forms of bullying may also be a criminal offence. If somebody physically or sexually attacks you, steals from you or uses prejudice language or hate speech towards you (such as homophobia and racism) or shares your private information or intimate images online – these are all key signs that you should probably report it to the Police.

5. Don’t see yourself as the problem

The reason people experience bullying is not because of their sexuality, gender identity, race, appearance, disability or any other unique factor; it is because of the attitude towards the factor. The only thing possible to change is attitudes. The person who is bullying you is the one with the issue, not you.

6. Deal with stress

When you are going through a stressful situation, it can be difficult to deal with it objectively if you keep it all to yourself. The stress navigates towards the front of your mind and builds up into a completely avoidable chain of negative emotions. It is therefore incredibly important to tell somebody that you trust; it doesn’t even have to be an adult, it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. You deserve the help and support to get through this.

We have a really simple exercise available on our website called Stress Reprogramming which you can do either alone or with somebody else in around 30 minutes. The exercise will help you see stress differently and come up with a way forward.

7. Even though you may want to, don’t isolate yourself

Depriving yourself of any sort of support certainly isn’t going to resolve the issue or help you handle the bullying. We know it may feel like the best thing to do at the time, but it will only make things worse by silencing you and reducing your self-esteem. Often people who are bullied will understandably see themselves as victims, but it’s important that you look beyond that and don’t let the bullying dictate who you are. Talk about it to somebody at Ditch the Label.

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8. Look after your health

We’re not going to go into the whole endorphin thing because you’ve probably heard it before – but seriously, eating a good, clean diet and exercising can really improve your physical and mental health and reduce stress. Reductions in stress increase your clarity, helping you break down difficult situations, making them much easier to deal with. Other things you can try include meditation, yoga, cooking, long walks, running and swimming.

We ALL have mental health, but why is it that everybody focuses more heavily on physical than mental? The fact of the matter is: we all have ups and downs and statistically, 1 in 4 of us will experience some sort of mental health complication such as depression or anxiety. It is completely okay to speak up about these issues and it is important that you seek emotional and mental health support from your GP, a therapist or counsellor. We have more advice on issues you may be facing available here.

9. Seek role models

When you’re going through your teen years, sometimes it can all seem like a bit of a black hole. It’s made even worse if you’re struggling with your identity or being bullied.

This is why it is important to seek out positive role models to show you that plenty of people have been where you are right now and have managed to overcome it. Read more stories and inspiring blogs here.

10. Lean on us

We are a leading global youth charity and we are here for you when you need us the most. If you need any help or guidance, join the community to chat anonymously with a digital mentor, or discuss what’s on your mind with others who’ve been there before!

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Are you dealing with cyberbullying?

If you are being cyberbullied, read our top 9 tips on overcoming cyberbullying for advice on what to do and how to deal with it.

Being shamed is not only a very real part of experiencing bullying behaviour, but it also a very real part of day-to-day life.

Shame can impact negatively on your well-being and self-esteem; it tells us that ‘we are bad’, that we should feel embarrassed of ourselves or a unique factor we might possess, that people have the right to judge us. Well, guess what? They don’t.

Here are 15 things we really need to stop shaming each other over.

1. Appearance.

In recent Ditch the Label research, appearance was cited as the number one aggressor of bullying, with 51% saying they were bullied because of attitudes towards how they look. We say, dress how you want to dress and be who you want to be!

2. Dress size.

‘Fat shaming’ is a relatively new term to describe something that has been going on for years, but size is nothing but a number! As long as you are happy and healthy nothing else matters.

3. Taste in music/film/food etc.

We all enjoy different things – it’s what makes the world go round! Whether you like listening to classical music or if watching The Real Housewives of Cheshire is your idea of a good night – that’s fine! Taste is totally subjective, so do what makes you happy and let others do the same.

4. Skin colour.

‘Too pale’, ‘too dark’, ‘too orange’, ‘too brown’ – who needs this kind of unwanted commentary or judgement? You have as much control over your DNA as you do the moon. All skin colours and tones are uniquely beautiful as they are different and that’s a good thing.

5. Singledom.

Not all people in relationships are happy and not all single people are unhappy! It’s time we acknowledged that being single doesn’t mean being alone. It also doesn’t mean there is something ‘wrong with you’.

There is so much pressure in society to find a partner – but there really is no rush! It’s much better that you take time to understand yourself and what you really want from life, before committing to another person.

6. Masculinity.

‘Man up’, ‘grow a pair’, ‘stop acting like a girl’ are phrases commonly used to shame men out of expressing emotion. With this kind of suppression and stoicism firmly rooted in our culture, is it any surprise that male suicide is the biggest killer of young men today? We are literally shaming young men into suicide. We desperately need to step away from rigid, old-fashioned ideas of masculinity and move towards one that allows men to ask for help when they need it.

7. Slut shaming.

Slut shaming comes from the archaic belief that it’s not okay for females to enjoy or engage in a lot of sexual activity. Rather than shaming females who enjoy a healthy sex life, we should focus our energies on making sure consensual and safe sex is practised.

8. Sexuality.

Your sexuality is another example of something you cannot control or change, but despite this fact, homophobia is still rife in many areas of society. Love is love! What does it matter who people date?

9. Mental health.

Even though it is 2019, Mental health still has a crippling stigma attached to it. Battling a mental illness can seem extremely daunting, but help and support is out there – so don’t ever feel too ashamed to seek it.

Mental health should be talked about as often and as openly as physical health – it makes no sense that an ailment of the mind should be considered more shameful than an ailment of the body.

10. Career.

How you decide to earn a living is your business entirely. There is great pressure on us to ‘succeed’ in society – and often that means financially succeed. However wealth is not a measure of ability or happiness, so we should not judge each other on such merits. Get to know the person before you ask them what it is they ‘do’.

11. Body hair.

To be hairy or not to be hairy? Well, that is entirely up to you – it’s your body after all! Society has conditioned us to see body hair as repulsive and something to be immediately removed, but in actual fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Whether you are as hairless as a Sphinx cat, or as furry as rabbit – if you like it, rock it!

12. Femininity.

Going against traditional expressions of femininity is often met with judgement in society today. Women are shamed into thinking that facial hair is wrong, or that having muscles is ‘manly’. A female celebrity caught without makeup is often slated in the media for not looking attractive enough. Women in managerial roles are often called ‘moody’ or ‘bossy’ – adjectives that would never be ascribed to males in their position.

Here at Ditch the Label we believe we need to give the concept of femininity room to evolve and grow into something far more accepting and liberating.

13. Money.

People who are living at either end of the spectrum are most vulnerable to this kind of shaming; those living in poverty and those who are wealthy. Both can experience damaging forms of snobbery, with judgement of the rich being inverted.

14. Living at home with your parents

Living at home with your mum and dad can be seen as a bit of a turn off once you are no longer a teen, but many people of all different ages and backgrounds at various points in their life decide to return to the family home – and some have never left in the first place! Whatever reason you might have for living at home (and there are many) it really is okay.

15. Social media

Social media might as well be called social judgement. How many followers do you have? How many likes do you get? How awesome and shiny does your life look? How many friends do you have? How many comments and retweets do you get?

It’s incredibly easy to feel the pangs of shame and judgement when scrolling through your news feed – and the most common place for it to come from, is actually ourselves.

We can feel shame when comparing our lives with other people’s, but we must remember that a profile will very rarely tell the full story of someone’s life.

So stop comparing, it really is the thief of all happiness!

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?

calling someone a bully

It’s time to think differently about bullying…

At Ditch the Label, we never call anybody a ‘bully’ because we don’t see bullying as an identity. Bullying is a behaviour and like all behaviours, there is a root cause and a remedy for change.

We need to compassionately understand the motives of people who bully, so we can work proactively to combat bullying with prevention. It’s time to say no to the villainization of those who bully others and reframe how we see bullying.

Here are 10 good reasons why we should ditch the ‘bully’ label and take a new approach to overcoming bullying:

1. It’s not what you are, it’s who you are

Bullying is a behaviour not an identity. By labelling someone a ‘bully’ you are basically saying that this behaviour is their defining quality.

2. You Never Know the Full Story

Bullying is a coping mechanism for difficult and stressful situations going on in someone’s life – you might think they look tough on the outside, but they’re probably suffering on the inside.

3. Family Stuff

According to our research, 1 in 3 people who bully on a daily basis said that they don’t feel as though their parents or carers have enough time to spend with them.

4. Lack of Support

People who bully are more likely to feel insecure in their relationships, meaning that they lack stability and support.

5. The Self Fulfilling Prophecy

By labelling someone a ‘bully’ it becomes a factor of their personality and they are more likely to fulfil this prophecy – it’s time to ditch that label!

6. Change is Now

It is never too late for someone to change. Ditch the Label can help you turn things around. If you need help, click here to talk to someone and make a change.

7. Hard times

People who bully are more likely to have experienced the death of a relative or a family breakup meaning that they are struggling to cope with their feelings in a healthy way.

8. Talk about it

Because the best way to deal with bullying is to talk to the person, not alienate them.

9. Environment

We are a product of our environment. Those who bully are more likely to deal with significant family fallouts and persistent arguing in the home.

10. Bullying Ends Here

If we help those who bully to make changes, we can eliminate bullying for everyone.

Change starts with you

We know what you’re thinking right now…. “So I have to be nice to the person who’s bullying me – WTF?!?!” Well, the long and short of it is…yes! Think twice before you call someone a bully. The real reasons why people bully are not as obvious as you might think and go much deeper than you can imagine…

Take guys for example. According to our research, guys are far more likely to bully than girls. You might think that’s a bit of a sweeping statement to make, but when you think about the societal pressures put upon guys to ‘act tough’, ‘don’t cry’ and ‘man up’, it’s no wonder they turn to violence and aggression to cope with their problems.

By encouraging people to talk about their problems, rather than bottling them up, we prevent our emotions from manifesting themselves in unhealthy ways. If you are bullying someone, read this.

Talk it out

You can talk to a digital mentor at Ditch the Label who will help you whether you’re being bullied or doing the bullying. Everyone is treated equally and absolutely no one will be judged.

Join the Community

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.

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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