SCHOOL can be tough for many children.

But what if the people you thought were your child's friends are actually the school mates who are making them the most unhappy. 

To coincide with Anti-Bullying Week, we have been taking a look at some of the signs parents and children can look out for and what they can do about it.

A spokesman from the anti-bullying charity Kidscape said: "Sometimes people who claim to be your friends can show bullying behaviour.

"In pop culture, that’s called a ‘frenemy’ or ‘frenemies’.

"Banter between friends can be fun, and when everyone’s in on the joke and enjoying themselves, it’s an important form of communication that bonds people together.

"However it can shift into bullying when someone is upset, hurt or offended, and the other person refuses to stop.

"For example, if someone keeps teasing you about something over and over again, even if they can see you’re no longer finding it funny, it’s shifting into bullying behaviour.

"Another form of banter that can shift into bullying behaviour is when friends pick on a physical trait or a characteristic of someone in the group and repeatedly use this as a focus of jokes or comments (e.g. someone’s weight, skin colour, ethnic background, religion, sexuality, gender)." 

How to spot a 'frenemy'

  • They might say 'brutally honest' things to you which are unkind or hurtful
  • Put pressure on you to do things you don’t want to do
  • Be manipulative (e.g. ‘If you were my friend you would…’)
  • Put you down
  • Laugh at you, or encourage others to laugh at you
  • Talk about you behind your back
  • Deliberately exclude you from group chat and activities
  • Take the 'banter' too far
  • Share things about you online
  • Make you feel bad about yourself

If you or your child think they might have a frenemy or friends who have been overstepping the mark, the charity advises youngsters to talk to the person about how their behaviour makes them feel.

A spokesman added: "Their response will tell you a lot.

"Sometimes our behaviour hurts others without us realising.

"A good friend will be sorry that they made you feel bad, and not do it again."

How to make new friends

Kidscape suggests joining a club, youth group, online forum or getting involved in an activity you enjoy is a great way of meeting new people.

Other tips include volunteering in the community and 'making an effort'. 

A spokesman added: "Don’t wait for others to arrange something.

"Ask your new friends if they’d like to hang out."

You can read more from advice from Kidscape by clicking here