Bullying by adults

QuestionI am being bullied by my soccer coach. What can I do?

AnswerThis is difficult as adults are role models and we expect them to do the right thing.

  • You have the right to speak up and say it when you think you are being treated unfairly.
  • If you are being bullied by an adult you will need to talk to someone about this as soon as possible.
  • If the bullying is happening in a group, e.g. a club or in a school, this will need to be reported to someone in a position of authority as this person may be bullying other teenagers too.
  • Talk to your parents or another adult who may be connected to this group.
  • Try not to be alone with this person, stay with other group members as much as possible. Other people in the group may also be able to support you when you want to report the bullying.

QuestionWhat if it’s someone in my family like my dad or older cousin?



  • If you are being bullied by an older family member, e.g. a sister/brother, aunt or uncle, talk to a parent about this.
  • If the bullying is happening in your family and you are not sure what to do about it, talk to another adult outside of your family like a teacher/school counsellor or another relative.
  • Sometimes there can be problems at home such as domestic violence or drug or alcohol problems. During these times, young people may become the victims of anger or abuse. They may witness other people in the family being abused at home also. The information on coping with Domestic Abuse or Parental Drug or Alcohol Problems may be helpful for you. If there is violence in your family home, it is important that you are safe. There are people who can help you. Try talking to a teacher, youth leader, sports coach or another adult you know and trust.
  • You can also contact a Duty Social Worker in your local HSE health centre, the Gardaí or someone in your local family resource centre or community development project.

QuestionI think my teacher might be bullying me, how can I be sure?

AnswerIf you feel that a teacher regularly humiliates you, uses sarcasm, insults or makes negative comments about you, your appearance, background, personality or academic progress then this is a serious issue.

If you feel threatened or intimidated by a teacher, you will need to report this as soon as possible. Talk to your parents, the school counsellor, your year head or the school principal.

It may be helpful to bring a friend with you. If a teacher is bullying you, your classmates will certainly have noticed that something is happening. Ask them for their help.

Think about  

As you go through secondary school, the relationship you have with some teachers may be less formal than with others, some teachers may enjoy some joking and light-hearted slagging in the classroom. If everyone in the classroom joins in with this and the slagging involves all people equally, then this is okay. If you think you are being singled out though, then this is a problem.

Also, a teacher may make a joke about something and classmates who are bullying may use this comment as another thing to jibe about. The teacher may not realise that this light-hearted comment will be used by the people who are bullying.

If this is happening to you, you could discreetly say this to your teacher, ‘I know you were just joking with me in the classroom, but in the yard I’ve been getting a hard time.’

Most likely your teacher will be glad you spoke up about it and will try to understand things from your point of view. Probably the teacher will also want to help you deal with what’s happening, or suggest that you talk to the Guidance Counsellor.

Know what is NOT bullying

It is not bullying if a teacher criticises your work in a fair way or, if after you have done something wrong, your teacher puts in place some type of consequences for you such as extra homework or detention. Constructive criticism and discipline are a part of school life.

It is unfair if a student wrongly accuses a teacher of bullying just because they disagree or don’t like it when the teacher has to put rules in place.

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