October is National Bullying Prevention Month, founded by the organisation PACER.
National Bullying Prevention Month aims to encourage everyone to create a safe and supportive nature within their community, helps individuals to learn more about preventing bullying and aims create a world without bullying.
What is bullying?
Bullying doesn't have to be when someone physically hurts you, but of course that can be one aspect of bullying. They might say hurtful things to you, make you feel excluded from activities, they might make you feel unsafe or threatened, or embarrass you in public. Bullying is usually something someone does repeatedly, and can happen in person or online.
Many bullies might target someone for a certain reason, for example a person’s race, background or home life, which is why it is really important to create an inclusive environment for everyone.
Being bullied as a young carer or young adult carer
Many young carers and young adult carers face bullying whilst they are at school or in their community, in fact as many as 60-70% of young carers report being bullied (1&2). Young carers might be bullied because other students have a lack of awareness about what a young carer does, why their role is so important and they might not understand the disability, illness or mental illness that the person you're looking after has.
Maybe your friends or peers at school don't realise you're looking after someone, but you still experience bullying due to the effects of your caring role. Lots of young carers and young adult carers may struggle with things other people their age don't, like having clothes washed for school, having packed lunches, or having the latest phone or bag.
Hannah, a young adult carer who grew up looking after her Mum, often felt like she was different at school.
Where I was looking after my Mum, I didn't take proper care of myself, I didn't have an adult figure telling me to wash my hair every day, so I'd get a bit run down and look a bit rubbish and people would comment on it at school.
Whilst it might feel difficult discussing your caring role with teachers at school, they should be able to help you if you are being bullied. Nobody deserves to be bullied and everyone has the right to feel safe and supported. Talk to your teacher or a trusted adult about your caring role and what you're going through.
There are also many places that can help you if you are being bullied due to your caring role, we’ve highlighted a few organisations you might find helpful:
You can call them free on 0300 323 0169 to speak to someone who understands and will listen to you.
If you need to speak to someone, there is always help available by calling ChildLine on 0800 1111. They also have a useful section on their website about bullying.
Call The Mix on 0808 808 4994, chat to them online or text their crisis messenger (text THEMIX to 85258) if you need support. The Mix also have lots of helpful articles on bullying.
What can you do during National Bullying Prevention Month?
Help your school to become a Champion against Bullying
Schools and organisations can register to become a Champion against Bullying by pledging to inspire, educate and involve students in bullying prevention. You can find out more here.
Pledge to create a world without bullying
You individually can take a pledge to create a world without bullying by promoting inclusiveness in your life and those close to you. You can let others know about your pledge by putting it on social media or use any of the useful resources on PACER’s pledge section of their website here.
Speak out and raise awareness for young carers and young adult carers
When we understand each other, we break down barriers and realise that we have a lot more in common than we think. By telling your story, it can help others to understand what you're going through, and help others in similar situations to come forward and get support.
If you'd like to share your story with us, please contact us here. We'd love to hear from you!
1 The Princess Royal Trust for Carers (2009), Supporting Young Carers – A School Resource Survey (The Princess Royal Trust for Carers).
2 Carers Trust & The Children’s Society. (2020). Young Carers Webinar.