Despite receiving endless compliments from family members and general passers-by, growing up with ginger hair is not always easy.
Because we stand out from the crowd, redheads are often victims of ridicule, bullying, or worse. Being picked on for your appearance is harsh and uncalled for in any circumstance, and can really get you down, particularly when you’re growing up.
And as you grow up and mature, you realise that things get better.
Sometimes, it may not seem like things can improve, but sure enough, red hair is treasured and envied by many, which usually occurs once you grow out of puberty. You start to notice that celebrities and friends alike dye their hair red, or keep telling you how awesome redheads are, and how lucky you are to have such a rare and beautiful hair colour.
But as easy it is to tell you that things get better, it doesn’t help the issue at hand.
So, for those of you who may be dealing with bullying, or if you are a parent of a red-haired child who is being bullied, we’ve teamed up with the UK organisation Anti-Bullying Alliance to offer some advice.
The organisation’s aim is to stop bullying and create safe environments in which children and young people can live, grow, play and learn.
Advice For Redheads Who Are Being Bullied
If you believe that you are being bullied, it’s always best to tell someone. Whether that’s a teacher at school, a friend, or your parents, is up to you.
The first step is to acknowledge the situation, and to air your feelings about it. Because, once you talk about it, you will realise that it’s not your fault.
It’s always best to tell an adult when you feel like you’re being bullied. They are in a position to be able to help you. You could speak to your teacher, your parent and/or another adult you trust.
Aside from this, there are also helplines and websites that can help you through this difficult time, if you wish to speak to somebody (see below).
Links and Helplines For Those Who Are Being Bullied
ChildLine: 0800 1111 – the UK’s free, confidential helpline for children and young people. They offer advice and support by phone and online, including tips on dealing with bullying, available 24 hours a day: www.childline.org.uk
Counselling Directory is a national database of more than 10,000 qualified counsellors, who are on hand to listen, help and support, whether you’re looking for therapy sessions or just someone to talk to: www.counselling-directory.org.uk
Cybermentor is a safe social networking site providing information and support for young people affected by bullying: www.cybermentors.org.uk
Direct Gov provides information for young people on cyberbullying, bullying on social networks, online and email bullying, bullying on mobile phones, bullying at school, and what to do about bullying: www.gov.uk/bullying-at-school/the-law
EACH: 0808 1000 143 – a freephone Actionline for children experiencing homophobic bullying, open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm: eachaction.org.uk
GoGetInfo is a mobile information service for teenagers that sends trusted expert advice on all sorts of issues straight to your mobile phone. Each download costs 50p (plus standard data charges for videos): www.gogetinfo.com
Advice For Parents and Carers of Redheads
If your child is being bullied, try not to panic. The parents’ key role is to keep calm and provide reassurance that the situation can get better once action is taken.
Establish the facts of what your child is telling you. It may be helpful to keep a diary of events.
Listen and reassure your child that coming to you was the right thing to do and that the bullying isn’t their fault. They need to know that they have support at home.
Whatever you do, don’t encourage retaliation to bullying, such as violent actions. This can be unpredictable, and may attract further unwanted attention. Instead, you should encourage your child to seek help if bullying occurs.
Next, find out what your child wants to happen next, and encourage them to form friendships with others and take part in activities that build their confidence and self-esteem.
Your next step should be discussing the situation with your child’s teacher or lead adult at wherever the bullying is taking place.
Schools must have a behaviour policy in place that sets out the measures to be taken to prevent all forms of bullying between pupils. For more information on making a complaint, click here.
Links and Helplines For Parents and Carers
Family Lives (previously Parentline Plus): 0808 800 2222 – Immediate support and advice for parents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Kidscape: 08451 205 204 – For parents and carers of bullied children, open Mon-Tue 10am-8pm; Wed-Fri 10am-4pm.
Contact a Family: 0808 808 3555 – For families with disabled children – they can give advice on bullying issues.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) – provides help and advice on cyberbullying, the centre maintains a website for children and young people, and parents and carers about staying safe online.
Red Balloon Learner Centres – provides intensive, full-time education for children aged between 9 and 18 who feel unable to return to school because they have been severely bullied. There are Red Balloon Centres all over England, and they also have a programme of online support.
For more information on the Anti-Bullying Alliance, visit www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk