What to do if you’re bullying others

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If you’re thinking about changing the way you treat other people, you’re on the right track. Acknowledging that you have a problem is an important step toward taking responsibility and changing your behaviour.

It’s everyone’s right to be treated with respect and to feel safe at places like work and school. Just because you may not like someone, doesn’t mean that it’s OK to abuse or harass them. Consider that:

  • Bullying can have serious side effects including depression, hopelessness, anxiety and school and relationship problems.
  • A person can bully someone who has bullied them first, or someone who they think deserves it in some way. But no matter what someone has done to you, it’s never OK to hurt them.

It’s important to know that if you’re bullying someone, you can change. Lots of people who bully learn how to behave differently and have healthy relationships with other people. If you need to talk, Kids Help Phone counsellors are always available at 1-800-668-6868. They will never judge you or turn you away.

My friends are bullying others

Bullying also happens in group situations, where three or more people bully one or two others. Sometimes, you may be involved in group bullying without really knowing who started it or why you’re doing it. You may be following someone else’s lead or you may find it just “happens” when a certain group is together.

Here are some things you can try doing to stop the behaviour:

  • Walk away: the next time your group is bullying others, try walking away or telling the rest of the group to stop.
  • Talk it out: explain to the group that you don’t want to be involved anymore, and tell them that the next time it happens, you’ll take a stand.
  • Switch things up: suggest new activities for you and your friends to do together. A change of environment or a new group activity (like a sport) could be a good way to focus on something positive.
  • Move on: if your friends don’t accept your decision to stop taking part in the bullying, it may be time to end the friendship. Try to focus on making new, healthy friendships.