Bullying – Beliefs v Reality

How to identify Bullying

People experience bullying in many stages throughout life. In school by classmates, at work by colleagues, bosses or even in a circle of friends.

Bullying can take a number of forms. Some are obvious to identify such as physical violence. This is where a bully uses violence to intimidate others and they may also want their targets to become fearful of them.

Other ways are verbal bullying, which may include some subtle tactics such as:

  • Insults
  • Undermining a target in the presence of others
  • Name-calling
  • Spreading false information about their target in order for others to view them negatively.
  • Excluding their target from situations in an effort to make them feel isolated.
  • Pranks resulting in the embarrassment of the target.
  • Highlighting a vulnerability in someone.


Online bullying has become an issue in recent years due to the use of social media.

Cyberbullies target people without disclosing their own identity and therefore bully anonymously. This can involve unkind messages, abusive comments, spreading offensive content about someone, or even hacking into profiles to retrieve sensitive information with the intention of distribution.

Effects of bullying

Bullying can have devastating consequences and be harmful to mental health and wellbeing.

It can cause:

  • low self-esteem
  • low self-confidence
  • body dysmorphia
  • social anxiety
  • agoraphobia
  • depression

Why people bully

If an individual is being bullied, they believe the fact that they are being targeted is an indication that they are of no worth or value. This is not the case, the reality is:

  1. Bullies don’t decide to become a bully specifically because of the person they target. Therefore it’s not personal to that individual, they would simply bully anyone.
  2. A bully may also be copying behaviour they’ve seen at home.
  3. Bullies are insecure people. Often they may be bullied themselves and target vulnerable people in order to make them feel better about themselves.
  4. They likely see a quality or a likability in someone and envy it, therefore their sole motivation is to bring that person down.


The following examples demonstrate how bullying can be present in those situations:

  • A child may bully because he/she lacks attention at home so will take their frustration out on others. This can even occur between siblings.
  • A boss may get uncomfortable if an employee is excelling in their work and is popular with clients, therefore the boss feels threatened and subtly undermines the employee in order to try and bring them down.
  • Someone in a group of friends may be in a new relationship. The friends may be envious if they’re unhappily single and therefore may exclude and isolate that person from the group.
  • A public figure may have a social media account. They may be successful and live their dreams. Some people respond negatively to them due to comparison and lack of accomplishments in their own lives, therefore they resort to posting abusive comments to that individual.
Download our Bullying- Beliefs v Reality PDF

What to do if you are being bullied

If you are being bullied in any way, it’s important to tell someone you trust, such as a parent, family member, teacher, close friend or colleague.

Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed as this behaviour is a reflection of the bully and not you.

If the abuse is online, you may consider blocking and reporting those who are being abusive. 

If you are no longer getting bullied but are suffering from the consequences of the experience, consider the points above, that you were bullied because someone considered you to be better than them, it was not personal to you, they likely bully many people. 

Consider taking part in activities or classes that allow you to interact with like-minded people who share the same interests. Finding commonality with others can lead to great friendships and more enjoyable social experiences. It will boost your confidence and self-esteem.

Remember you’re not a victim, you’re a survivor.