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What is bullying?

A bully is someone who threatens or hurts another person through their words or actions. Bullies use power over another person—such as popularity, physical strength or knowledge of embarrassing information—to control or harm another person.

Bullying may occur once or repeatedly over time. It can happen at school or outside of school hours, such as on the bus or in your neighborhood.

Bullying can look like:

  • Hitting, pinching or kicking
  • Pushing or tripping
  • Spitting
  • Stealing or breaking someone’s belongings
  • Making mean or rude hand gestures
  • Purposely excluding someone from a group
  • Embarrassing someone in public
  • Telling other people not to be friends with another person
  • Making threats
  • Spreading rumors
  • Making inappropriate sexual comments
  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Threatening, humiliating or spreading rumors about someone online (also known as cyberbullying).

Bullying can make you feel like you can’t be yourself or even make you feel unsafe.

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Signs someone is being bullied

If you’re concerned your friend (if you’re a teen) or child (if you’re a parent) is being bullied, here are some warning signs to watch for:

  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Declining grades
  • Sudden loss of friends
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Loss or destruction of their books, clothes, jewelry or digital devices
  • Faking illness
  • Frequent stomachaches or headaches
  • Sudden changes in eating habits, such as overeating, undereating or coming home from school hungry because they didn’t eat lunch
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nightmares
  • Running away from home
  • Harming themselves
  • Talking about suicide

What to do if you’re being bullied

You have the right to be safe and respected. You don’t deserve to be bullied or harassed, whether in-person or online. If you’re being bullied:

How to help someone being bullied

If you see someone being bullied, there are several things you can do to help:

  • Get an adult involved. Tell an adult—like a parent, teacher, coach or neighbor—who can intervene.
  • Befriend them. Sit with the person being bullied in the cafeteria, walk with them to class or sit with them on the bus.
  • Interrupt the bullying. For example, ask the person being bullied to sit with you or go for walk.
  • Speak up. If you’re in a very public place, feel safe and have other friends (and, ideally, an adult) around, you could speak up to the bully and tell them to stop and leave the person alone. Keep in mind, it’s not always safe to intervene. If you’re not sure, find an adult and tell them what happened.

No one deserves to be bullied. If it’s happening to you or a friend, get help.

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Sources: What Teens Can Do What Is Bullying? Warning Signs for Bullying What Is Bullying? Bullying: How to Safely Help Someone

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Peer Pressure

How to handle peer pressure as a teen

When you’re a teen, it’s normal to want to fit in and have friends. But when your peers make unhealthy choices and pressure you to do so, that’s called negative peer pressure. While it can be a common part of your teen years, it’s still possible to make healthy decisions. Here are some tips to stay true to yourself.

How to resist negative peer pressure

As a teen, you may be pressured to do things like drink alcohol, use drugs, have sex, shoplift, sneak out of the house, vandalize property, drive dangerously, skip school or cheat on tests. While it can be tempting to give in when all your friends are doing something, it’s never worth it. Real friends want you to be healthy, safe and successful.

When facing peer pressure, think of the acronym “SWAG:”

  • S: Stop and say no
  • W: Explain WHY
  • A: Avoid the situation and offer alternatives
  • G: Get out

Stop and say no: Take a deep breath and firmly say “no.” Get comfortable with saying no. You have the right to make your own decisions.

Explain WHY: If you’ve decided to wait to have sex or drink alcohol, stick to your decision, no matter what your friends say. Have some responses you can use, such as:

  • I’m just not ready.
  • I don’t want to worry about STIs or pregnancy.
  • Our relationship is good without sex.
  • I care too much about my future and don’t want to mess it up by doing this.
  • I don’t need that stuff to have a good time.
  • No, I’m not into that.

Avoid the situation and offer alternatives: Avoid circumstances where you may be tempted to use drugs or alcohol or have sex, such as being home alone with your partner or going to parties where drugs and alcohol are available. Instead, suggest alternative activities like going out to eat, playing video games or going for a walk.

Get out: Trust your gut. If you feel unsafe or your friend/partner doesn’t respect your decision, leave the situation immediately. Come up with a code with your parents or a trusted adult that tells them they need to pick you up, such as “I just got a bad headache. Can you come to get me?”

What is positive peer pressure?

Your friends can also influence you in good ways, so it’s essential to surround yourself with people who support your goals and encourage you to make healthy decisions.

For example, if you hang out with a group of people who take school seriously, you may be more likely to prioritize academics too. When you have a strong support system, you’ll be more motivated to succeed and make healthy choices.

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Nemours Teen Health: Peer Pressure

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