About Bullying


What is Bullying?

Bullying is the act of one person picking on others, force or dominance over others, the powerful overpowering the powerless, a stronger individual or group of students intimidating weaker or smaller students. It is also the verbal, psychological or physical abuse of peers to make them feel "less than".
A victim is anyone perceived to be weak or somewhat different from each other. Bullies are sen as individuals who lack love and attention and seek both by displaying aggressive behaviours.

Types Of Bullying

There are several types of bullying - Cyber, Physical, Racial Emotional/Social and Sexual. The actions involved in bullying are : pushing, punching, threats, name calling, extortion, laughing at victim, teasing, verbal intimidation, taking away things, throwing things, fighting, hitting, spreading rumours, provoking, kicking, jeering, or belittling.
Bullying has not only physical but psychological and emotional effects on the victim. On the other hand the effects of bullying on the bully are not believed to be as extensive or numerous as they are on the victim.

Why Me?

 There are many reasons why a child may become a bully. Some children may turn to bullying as a way of coping with difficulties at home, death or divorce of their parents. Some are used to bullying to get their own way, often in a family where everyone bullies; some are abused and take out their humiliation and anger on others; some want to be ‘big deal’ and are prepared to use aggression and violence to command obedience and loyalty. Bullies will focus on something that makes their victim stand out or different in some way. It may be a physical feature, clothing, being smart, skin colour, weight, size, being new to a school or just perceived as weak.  

Children may become targets after being "tested" by a bully. A "test" may come in the form of a jeer or tease an insult or even a shove on the playground. Depending on how the child reacts will reveal their vulnerability to a bully who will persist with the behaviour if it not addressed.  The child needs to understand that bullying is never his/her fault but is solely the responsibility of the Bully.   Some children however, may be particularly vulnerable to bullying because they may have specific difficulties, such as poor co-ordination or a physical disability which affects their daily functioning. This is also know as special needs. Adults should be on the lookout for any potential opportunity for bully to target someone and take proactive steps to prevent it from happening.

Spot the Signs

Bullying affects both the victim and the perpetrator. Victims may show signs of being bullied by their behaviour. If your child shows some of the following signs, ask if someone is bullying or threatening them. Children may: 

  • be frightened of walking to or from school

  • not want to go on the school bus

  • be unwilling to go to school

  • feel ill in the morning

  • suddenly do poorly in their school work

  •  be anxious about using their computers or mobile phones

  • come home often with clothes or books destroyed

  • come home hungry (bully has taken lunch money)

  • be withdrawn, distressed, stop eating, lack confidence

  • attempt or threaten suicide

  • cry themselves to sleep

  • have nightmares

  • have their possessions ‘go missing’ 

  • ask for money or start stealing money (to pay the bully)

  • refuse to say what's wrong (too frightened of the bully)

  • have unexplained bruises, scratches, cuts

  • begin to bully other children or siblings

  • become aggressive and unreasonable give improbable excuses to explain any of the above

How to Prevent Bullying

  • Reassure your child often by emphasizing your love and that you are 100% on his or her side. 

  • Reassure children that the bullying is not their fault, and can be stopped

  •  Explain that reacting to bullies by becoming upset only encourages them. If bullies get no response, they'll get bored. We know staying calm isn't easy!

  • Practice saying “No” very firmly and walking away from a bully. It is hard for the bully to go on bullying if the target appears not to be upset.

  • Help your child think up simple, neutral responses to the bully's most frequent taunts. Responses don't have to be brilliantly witty or funny,

  • Try to minimize opportunities for bullying: tell your child, don't take valuable possessions to school, don't be the last person in the school bus.

  • Stay with a group even if they are not friends - there's safety in numbers If the bully threatens your child to get money or possessions and there is no safe way out of the situation, tell your child to give up whatever it is the bully wants.

  • Keeping safe is more important than keeping possessions.

  • Make time to sit down and talk - about your child's ideas, feelings, solutions.

  • Make opportunities for your child to do well; for example, plan activities your child is interested in and good at.

  • Give them responsibilities - this helps to make a child feel valued and important .They can make a ‘feel good’ poster: find a happy photograph of your child and stick it in the centre of a piece of paper. Around it, work together to write down some of the nice things people have said about your child.

  • Sometimes bullied children become withdrawn - help them develop social skills: invite others round and arrange outings.

  • Try not to let your child sit around moping - diversions can help. Encourage work on a hobby or a sport

  •  Don't discuss your own distress and anger in front of your child. Your calm will help them stay calm. And many children fear upsetting their families.  

  • Have your child join an Antibullying group.

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Additional Resources & Parent Support



The Child Protection and Family Services Agency based in Jamaica



UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to drive change for children and young people every day, across the globe



Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Centre based in the USA



The Office of the Children's Advocate based in Jamaica



The National Parenting Support Commission based in Jamaica



The Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica

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