It’s illegal to hurt and violate others. It doesn’t matter whether you’re victimised once, twice, or a hundred times. It’s forbidden, whether it’s a one-time incident or a reoccurring pattern. Nor does it matter what you call it—bullying, mobbing, harassment, discrimination, or alienation. The most important thing is that you have the right to be treated well, both by your peers and by adults. At Friends we’re doing our part every day to combat bullying in schools, pre-schools, and sports clubs, and our goal is to make sure that every young person feels safe and secure.

In this section we cover what’s what, and most importantly, what we can do together to make sure that you and every other young person can feel safe and secure in school.

What are bullying, harassment and discrimination?

Bullying is when someone is exposed to negative actions for a period of time. The person who is victimised finds himself/herself in a disadvantaged position and can therefore have a hard time defending themselves. Other words that are sometimes used to describe someone being victimised are harassment, discrimination and other acts of intimidation. Degrading treatment is when someone is treated in a way that makes them feel sad, hurt, and inferior. It can be a one-time incident or happen several times. Harassment is when the bullying has to do with one of the seven grounds of discrimination, such as gender or ethnicity. Discrimination is when an adult treats you unfairly or when your school has unfair rules that impact you because you have a particular religion, sexual orientation, or a disability. Read more in the glossary.

Different Types of Bullying?

Bullying can occur in school, in your spare time, at a sports club, or on the internet. Anywhere people spend time together bullying can occur, and both children and adults can bully or be bullied. There are different forms of bullying:

1. Physical: Doing something to someone else’s body such as hitting, kicking, groping, coming too close, holding them down, pushing, tripping, pinching, pulling their hair, throwing something at them, stealing or destroying property, etc.

2. Verbal: Causing someone harm by using words. This can include threats, graffiti, or saying something directly to the person. Badmouthing, gossiping, and spreading rumours are also classed as verbal bullying.

3. Psychological: To silently show a person that they are unwelcome or inferior in different ways. This can be with nasty glances, sighs, turning your back to them, or shutting them out of the group.

Four Simple Tips How You and Your Class Can Combat Bullying

Everyone and anyone can do something about bullying! It comes down to what we do and how we behave each day in our everyday lives—in our families, amongst friends, at school, in our sports clubs, on the internet, and amongst strangers. However, children and young people are not responsible for solving bullying—that’s always the adults’ responsibility. Having said that, as a young person you often know more than the adults do, because you know what’s really going on in the class, at school, and in your spare time. Adults need help finding out when someone is being mistreated. It’s also very helpful for a person who is alone to know that someone their own age sees them.

1. Show the person who is being bullied that you know they exist.

Say “hi”, smile, sit next to them sometimes. Join them for lunch in the cafeteria or lunchroom, ask what they’re doing during the break, or ask what homework they need to do. Listen to see if they need to talk. Small things can make a big difference.

2. Show them that the behaviour is wrong—not them!

Remember that even a bully can feel insecure. The person doing the bullying needs to be seen and heard just like any other person. This is why it can even help when you’re nice to the person who is bullying others. At the same time, it’s obviously important to be clear that you don’t accept the way they’re behaving. Show them that it’s their behaviour that’s the problem and not that there’s something wrong with them as a person.

3. Create a good atmosphere!

Something that’s important in preventing bullying is to create a good atmosphere in the group. Is your class fun? Do you think everyone feels the same way? Are there groups within the class that exclude others? Is it common that people gossip, use harsh words, and tell nasty jokes? Talk to the adults about what it’s like and work together to create a positive environment. The simplest way to achieve this is normally to do fun things together. In a group where everyone knows one another, people normally feel secure and aren’t as afraid of their differences.

4. Say no!

There are lots of ways you can say no. A good way to say no to bullying is to tell an adult about it. That’s not snitching—bullying is illegal! Another good way is to get help from some friends. Together you’ll be stronger. You can put some positive peer pressure on others by showing them that you won’t allow bullying and by doing so get more and more people to join your side. Don’t laugh along at nasty jokes, and speak up when someone is mean. The most important thing is THAT you do something—not what it is you do! If you take action you have the chance to change another person’s life.

Remember not to go around carrying others’ problems so that you end up feeling bad yourself. Talk to an adult!

What can I do if I am victimised?

In Sweden there are several different ombudsmen who can help you if you are the victim of bullying, discrimination, or abusive behaviour. Here’s who you can turn to:

The Discrimination Ombudsman (DO) works to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sex, transgender identity, ethnic background, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation and age.

The Child and School Student Representative (BEO) monitors the section of the Education Act dealing with counteracting degrading treatment, and is responsible for ensuring that schools follow the laws prohibiting violational and abusive behaviour, discrimination, and harassment. The BEO can speak on behalf of students when they’ve been victimised in school.

Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO) is to monitor the court system and authorities to ensure they adhere to the law and other regulations, and that they fulfil their duty to safeguard children’s rights.

The Ombudsman for Children is tasked with representing children and young people’s rights and interests based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

If you feel like you’re at risk or have been mistreated, try to talk to an adult so that you can get help. All children have the right to feel safe and secure at school and in their free time. Read more if you need support or help.

The Discrimination Act

 The Discrimination Act forbids a person from mistreating you or treating you unfairly, and also forbids your school from having unfair rules that negatively impact you, whether they be based on sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or belief, a disability, sexual orientation, or age (2008:567).


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