Do you have the feeling that other girls and boys at school have it in for you? That they insult you for no reason or make fun of you? Do you feel excluded and find it difficult to make friends? Then it is possible that you are being bullied. “Bullying” is a term used when individuals are harassed, teased or discriminated against within a group – for example, a school class – over a longer period of time, and are thus excluded from the group.

The most important thing that you need to know about bullying is: It’s not about you. Don’t let bullies or American high school movies convince you of this. Estimates suggest that approximately 50% - so half of all students – in Germany have been bullied. It is relatively unlikely that they were all to blame.

Most of the time, the problem lies with the bullies. Especially during puberty, almost everyone is struggling with self-esteem, envy and insecurities. Bullying can be an attempt by someone to secure a powerful position within a group, to protect themselves from being excluded. The victims are often chosen at random. Often people who are easy to attack are bullied – be it because this person is new to the school and doesn’t have many friends yet, because an embarrassing story is known about them, because they speak an unusual dialect or because their appearance may not conform to certain norms.

Unfortunately, many girls and boys lack the courage to defend victims of bullying, out of fear of making themselves unpopular. In this way, they become followers, even if they actually like the classmate being bullied and are sad about how others treat them.

The situation often feels hopeless to those being bullied, because they feel like they are standing alone against everyone else. Mane respond to bullying by withdrawing or trying to please their bullies. Unfortunately, this usually backfires, because it only confirms the bully’s position of power and encourages them to continue. Usually, the most effective (though also the most difficult) way to react is to be strong, openly address the unfair hostility and defend yourself. If a conversation with your classmates is ineffective, you should address it as soon as possible and talk to your parents, teachers and principal about this. Although this may feel like snitching, don’t forget: You are not to blame for the situation. Your bully (or bullies) chose to treat you unfairly, so they must deal with the consequences.

The online advisers at the FeM-Mädchenhaus can also help you with bullying in our forum or protected area – regardless of whether you are the victim or whether you are wondering how you can help your classmate.