I’ve been called a bully

What should I do if I’ve been called a bully? How do I correct my behaviour?

Is my behaviour bullying?

Do you feel upset or confused because someone has called you a bully? Have you been bullying others? Are you thinking you may have bullied someone but you are not sure?

Go to What is bullying to find out if you have used bullying behaviours.

If you have been bullying others, admitting to it is a big thing

Taking responsibility for what you've done is the first step. You need to:

  • accept that others don't like the way you behave
  • think about how you have not been respectful or behaved inappropriately
  • accept the consequences you’ve been given for bullying behaviour
  • get ready to cooperate with your school and/or parents to work things out.

Think about the other person

Have you thought about how your behaviour is affecting the other person? They may feel:

  • upset or scared
  • that something is wrong with them
  • like they have no friends and that no-one likes them
  • that there's nothing anyone can do to help them
  • that things could get worse if they report you.

Apologise, repair the damage and make a change

It may be okay to apologise to the person and reassure them that you will not do it anymore. However, don't be surprised if they don't trust you or aren't comfortable to talk with you about it. You could try writing them a letter to apologise for your behaviour or speak to them with your parent or teacher present. Assure them that you've learnt and won't behave like that again.

Take steps to repair the damage you have caused. If you were bullying someone online, remove any offensive or hurtful images or messages. There may be other ways you can repair the damage you have caused to others.

Tell a parent or teacher that you have been using bullying behaviours and feel bad about it. Ask them to help you to change your behaviour and to learn how to deal with conflict in better ways.

Think about why you bully others

There’s no excuse for bullying but there could be a lot of reasons you’ve done this.

You may have felt pressured into doing it by friends, even when you knew it wasn't right. Maybe you've been in trouble at school because of this kind of behaviour. Think about why you may have done this.

Did you do it:

  • because you were angry with someone?
  • to make your friends laugh?
  • to get even with someone?
  • because you think the other person deserved it?
  • to stop others bullying you?

There are better and less harmful ways to deal with these issues.

If you don't know why you are bullying others, talk to someone about it to help you work it out. A teacher or counsellor may be able to help you to understand why you were bullying and give you some strategies to help you deal with conflict better, learn about other people's feelings, or make and keep friends.

You can also go on the Kids Helpline website or call them for free on 1800 55 1800 – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn about diversity

The world is made up of an enormous diversity of people and being respectful (PDF 62.97KB) of those differences is important for getting on with others throughout your life.

Sometimes we are uncomfortable with people who are different from us. Sometimes this can lead to bullying.

Sometimes we copy the way other people think about and behave toward others without thinking about why. Learning about how people who are different from you see the world can help you behave respectfully.

Adapted with permission from Bullying. No Way!

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