What should I do if my friend is bullying me?

If your friend is being hurtful to you or bullying you in some way then you need to question your friendship. Try to find a moment when he/she is being reasonable to talk about it with him/her.  It could be that it is not intentional and is only meant as “banter”. If it continues then put yourself in situations where you can meet new friends.  Join a new club or team. Sit down at a new lunch table.  Ask a pupil you like if you can be partners on a project. Chat to or text someone you want to get to know.  It’s not always easy but sometimes you can just “click” with a person.

When does banter become bullying?

Banter is a term to describe chat, teasing or joking between friends which is frequently harmless.  Jokes and banter, friendly insults and quips are often how we interact with friends and family with no hard feelings or upset.  This is because everyone is comfortable and shares the laughter and enjoyment.  Here is a useful film clip on banter

However, banter can also be used as an excuse for bullying, victimisation or discrimination where a person is singled out to be the butt of repeated jokes. This can have a very harmful effect on the person concerned. It is important that people recognise when the line is being crossed and are able to tell the people responsible that enough is enough.

People sometimes pass on jokes, photos or comments about others via text, e-mail or social media, again excusing this as “just a joke”. They are frequently distressing to the “target “ of the joke and can also be discriminatory (e.g. sexist , racist, homophobic, disablist). They then become much more serious in terms of their effect and in terms of how schools and other settings should deal with them. The B&NES Serious Equality Incident Report Form (and its guidance notes) should be used to report more serious incidents which are in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

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