Teasing and bullying sometimes happen together, but they aren’t always the same.
Teasing (or being teased by) a good friend in a playful, light-hearted way can actually be part of a healthy, positive relationship. However, being called names or maliciously made fun of can be a form of bullying.
When is teasing positive?
In some cases, teasing can be a good thing, especially if the person who is teasing is open to being teased themselves. Positive teasing can actually strengthen relationships by building closeness with another person.
Teasing can also help to influence positive behaviour in the person being teased. For example, jokingly pointing out that a friend is talking with their mouth full can be a non-threatening way of encouraging them to be more polite.
Teasing is not bullying when:
Remember: if you decide to tease a friend, be ready to be teased as well!
Can teasing be a form of bullying?
Teasing can bring people closer together but it can also be used to criticize, alienate, embarrass or hurt other people. In these cases, it can actually weaken relationships and be a form of bullying.
There are some kinds of teasing that are almost always hurtful, such as making fun of physical appearance, weight, religion, race, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Teasing can also be a form of bullying when:
What to do if teasing goes too far
If you have been teasing someone and they tell you that they don’t like it, do the following:
- Stop the teasing immediately
- Apologise to them. Say something like: “I’m sorry, I didn’t know that I would hurt you. It won’t happen again.”
If hurtful teasing or bullying is making you feel isolated or upset, you can put a stop to it:
- Calmly tell the person teasing you that you don’t enjoy being talked to that way. The person teasing you might not have realised that they hurt you.
- If the hurtful teasing or bullying continues, talk to someone about it. This could be a parent, carer, supportive friend, teacher or someone else you trust. Tell them how you feel and what the person is doing.
If you’re struggling, Childline is always ready to listen. Call 1800 66 66 66 or chat online at Childline.ie, 24 hours a day, every day.