What is Bullying?

Bullying is an intentional, targeted and unwanted negative behaviour that is repeated against a person who has difficulty defending themselves. This Definition of bullying is endorsed by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) in Ireland.

There is a power imbalance involved in bullying. This can mean that a bully (or bullies) is taller or physically stronger or more in number than the person being bullied.

What Types of Bullying Are There?

The most common forms of bullying are:


Persistent name-calling, which hurts, insults or humiliates.


Pushing, shoving, kicking etc., includes assaults and threats of assault and damage to property.


Threatening gestures – such as a throat-slitting gesture, or a gun-to-the-head gesture – or glances that convey threatening messages.


Socially isolating, excluding or ignoring someone.


Forcing another person to give away their property or money. ​

How Can I Tell If Someone Is Being Bullied?

Bullying can sometimes go unnoticed if you have not been made aware of it. It can be brushed off, unrecognized, or mixed up as something else. Sometimes students do not want to tell someone that they are being bullied. Indeed, 65% of young people who are bullied don’t tell an adult about it. This means that it is up to us to learn to spot the signs of bullying.

Some signs that a person is being bullied include:

  • Visible signs of anxiety and distress.
  • Targets may not want to say what is wrong.
  • Unexplained bruising and cuts.
  • Damage to property.
  • Drop in school performance on tests.
  • Excuses for not wanting to attend school.
  • Lowered confidence/self-esteem.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Repeated complaints of illness.
  • Skipping after school sports.

Some of these signs (e.g. excuses for not wanting to attend school) can be noticed in a student’s behaviour as a result of any type of bullying.

If you suspect bullying, do not ignore it. Address it.

What Can My School Do to Prevent Bullying?

One of the most effective methods of bullying prevention in a community is to use the ‘Whole School Community Approach’. This involves the entire school community – teachers and other school staff, parents, students and the wider school community. This approach is aimed at bullying prevention and intervention that can help reduce bullying.

Some examples of this are:

  • Awareness days to highlight the types of bullying.
  • Increased playground supervision.
  • An Anti-Bullying Policy.

Always remember that everyone within a school community has a responsibility to:

  • Avoid engaging in bullying behaviour.
  • Discourage and intervene when you witness bullying behaviour.
  • Assist and give support to those who are targeted.
  • Report bullying-related incidents.

How Can I Report Bullying?

You can report bullying in a number of ways, but we believe that the most effective way is to seek help from a trusted adult.

This could be a teacher, other school staff, parents or an older sibling. The most important part is to ask for help, because when you report bullying, you not only help the person being targeted, but also the person who is bullying and improve the environment where bullying is taking place.