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Bullying Knows No Boundaries – Lessons Learned from the UK

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The impact of bullying behavior is not confined to geographic boundaries. Negative impacts and lessons learned can be found across the world, not just in the United States. To share the work being done outside the United States, StopBullying.gov is honored to highlight the work of Ditch the Label in the United Kingdom and its CEO Liam Hackett.

Imagine that you have just witnessed a young person bullying one of their peers. How would you respond? Instinct is to often punish the ‘bully’ and to provide emotional support and reassurance to the ‘victim’. This is the dynamic that has been used in many cases of bullying – punishment and reactive support.

What if I were to tell you that there are new and more effective ways of tackling the issue? Ways in which bullying could be prevented from happening in the first place?

Firstly, I would like you to remove the words ‘bully’ and ‘victim’ from your vocabulary. At Ditch the Label, we never use either of those words to describe somebody because bullying is a behavior and not an identity. Society has certain assumptions about those words that can be incredibly damaging and frequently discourages people from reaching out for help. We already know that those who identify as being a ‘bully’ are twice as likely to engage in crime later on in life.

We surveyed 8,850 young people aged 12-25 in the United Kingdom for our Annual Bullying Survey 2016 and we know that people who perpetrate bullying are more likely to have difficulties at home, and are likely to have recently experienced something traumatic or stressful and aren’t dealing with it in positive ways. As a result, their physical and mental health suffers, with 29% feeling constantly physically ill. The similarity with those who have been bullied is clear - 27% report feeling constantly physically ill. 

Finally, the support for the person being bullied is crucial and should never be ignored. But instead of punishing the person doing the bullying, try to find the root issues and help them through. This takes time and patience, but by helping them overcome their issues, you are effectively preventing numerous other people from being bullied.

A Little About Ditch the Label:

  • Ditch the Label started in the UK during 2012 and have recently expanded support services across the USA and Mexico.
  • We pride ourselves in being a large and ambitious anti-bullying charity. Our philosophy is to be defiant, innovative and most importantly, different. Our mission is to reduce the effect and prominence of bullying internationally.
  • Each year, we provide award-winning support to thousands of young people aged 12-25, primarily through online partnerships. We also work with schools, parents/guardians, young people and other youth organizations. Innovation is at the core of all that we do and we believe that we can, and will beat bullying. In 2015, 180,000 young people benefited from Ditch the Label support.

StopBullying.gov thanks Ditch the Label for sharing their work and experiences. To end bullying worldwide it takes public and private, national, international and community support. To learn more about what you can do, check out How to Prevent Bullying.