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I’ve been called a bully

If you’ve been called a bully, it might be because something you’ve done has hurt someone else’s feelings.

When you’re online, it can be more difficult to realise what you’re doing is upsetting someone, until it already has. If someone has called you out for your behaviour, even if you thought you were just making a joke, it is probably a good idea to stop and ask yourself why they might have said that. 

While you might have meant a comment in a certain way, another person may see it differently. But there are some things you can do to turn the situation around, if someone has called you a bully.

What to do

Say you’re sorry

Say you’re sorry for making them feel upset, and show you really mean it. Remember, saying “sorry but...” is not a real apology. It’s best not to make people feel bad for feeling upset.

If they are upset because you posted a photo — delete it

If they are upset because of a photo or video you uploaded of them, and they ask you to delete it, listen to their request and take it down. If other people have shared it, ask them to take it down too. In future, make sure you get consent from a person before posting something about them, or with them in it. 

Try to put yourself in their shoes

If you are having trouble understanding why they are upset, put yourself in their shoes and think about what made them feel that way. You might have made fun of something they are insecure about or said something insensitively. Whatever it is, understanding why will help you avoid a similar situation in the future. It might also be useful to read about the difference between bullying and banter.

Be mindful of the wider context

Try being more proactively mindful and aware of people’s different backgrounds. Some things you think are OK to say, coming from your background, might not be OK for others. 

Don’t be a bystander

If you see someone else taking a joke too far and making someone upset, don’t be a bystander. Stepping up and asking the person being targeted if they’re OK, can go a long way.

Get support

It can be confronting and upsetting to be called a bully, especially if you didn’t mean to hurt someone. Reach out to a trusted adult or talk to a counsellor if you are worried or upset.