A boy with a sad expression resting his head against a window looking out to the rain.

Bullying isn't just being pushed in the corridor or someone leaving mean comments about you online. There is another insidious form of bullying that can have a very damaging effect - Social Exclusion

Social Exclusion happens when young people socially reject or exclude other young people.

Research has shown that it can have a detrimental effect on young people, including the loss of self-esteem and feelings of isolation. Later in life, it can lead to mental health issues.

If you are being socially excluded, it’s very hard to know what to do for the best. 

Do you confront the people who are excluding you?

Do you tell another friend?

Should you tell an adult or get a teacher involved?

If none of the above appeal to you, that’s totally understandable. However, it’s important to address how you’re feeling. 

Here are a few things that you can do: 

1. Write it out

Putting your feelings on paper might sound like a lot of work but it’s actually a brilliant way of processing what you’re going through. Not only will you feel better afterwards, you might have gained a new perspective about why you’re feeling that way or how the exclusion may have happened in the first place.

Even if it doesn’t, it helps because you can always show this piece of writing to whoever you decide to talk to and they will get a clear picture of your side of the story without you having to try to remember it all or relive the upsetting details. 

2. Give them a chance to explain

Before deciding that the people who excluded you are the ‘worst in the world’, take a minute and think about things. Are they your friends? Is this something that has happened before? Could they have done it by accident?

Don’t let your hurt feelings get in the way of your fairness. Take the person or a member of the group to one side and explain how their exclusion made you feel. There’s a chance that you will find that it was an accidental oversight or that someone simply forgot to invite you. If that’s the case, hopefully you can move on and they will know to include you in the future. 

3. Trust your gut

If it’s clear that you are being socially excluded on a regular basis, it’s natural to be upset. It is painful to be rejected by your friends or peers and you don’t have to pretend to be okay about it. 

Feel your feelings, cry or vent but don’t express your thoughts about the bullies online. Instead channel your emotion into your passions like songwriting, poetry, books, art, fitness or music.

4. Talk to someone

At a certain point, it’s important for you to tell someone what is happening. It could be a parent, a sibling, a teacher or one of our volunteers in Childline. 

Talking it through will help you feel empowered to take control of the situation and brainstorm possible solutions to the situation. 

5. Broaden your social horizons

It’s not a very nice thing to think about but over the course of our lives, we sometimes outgrow the friends we have.

People change, interests change and sometimes friendships come to a natural end. If that is the case here, examine how you feel and question if you really want this friendship to continue. How do they make you feel on a daily basis? 

If you find that deep down, you know that you’re better off without that person, it’s worth broadening your social circle by pursuing new interests or hobbies. 

Not only will you meet new people and make new friends, it will also help you build confidence and develop lifelong skills!

Final thoughts

It’s important to note that being left out of something isn’t always an intentional act of bullying. 

Some people are thoughtless or forgetful but don’t deliberately set out to hurt anyone’s feelings. They may not realise that they have left you out of something until it is pointed out to them and will hopefully rectify the situation. 

It only becomes a form of bullying when it’s clear that the person or group is icing you out on purpose and/or encouraging others to do the same.

Remember that it is NOT your fault that you are being excluded. You should never change who you are to fit in with the crowd.

No one deserves to be excluded.

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