October is National Bullying Prevention Month, founded by the organisation PACER.
What is bullying?
Bullying doesn’t have to be when someone actually hurts your body, but that can be one part of bullying. They might say hurtful things to you, make you feel like you can’t get involved in with activities, they might make you feel unsafe, or embarrass you in public. Bullying is usually something someone does more than once, and can happen in person or online.
Many bullies might target someone for a certain reason, for example, where a person is from, or their home life. The most important thing to remember is that if you are being bullied, it is not your fault.
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 don’t understand 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 talking about 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 places 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.
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.