What is bullying?
Bullying is repeated behaviour used by a more powerful person or group over a less powerful person, who has difficulty stopping the situation. The person or people bullying deliberately try to make the person being bullied upset, angry or afraid.

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What are some different types of bullying?
Physical bullying

  • violent actions towards another person, involving hitting, pinching, biting, pushing, pulling and shoving, slapping, punching, strangling, kicking, intentional bumping, tripping, scratching and throwing things
  • touching another person when they don’t want you to

Verbal bullying

  • calling someone names
  • spreading rumours
  • teasing someone in a hurtful way
  • being sarcastic in a hurtful way
  • making racially offensive comments about someone and their family
  • rude comments or jokes about someone’s religion
  • hurtful comments about the way someone looks or behaves
  • mean comments about someone’s body

Relational bullying

  • ignoring someone or keeping them out of group conversations (known as exclusion)
  • leaving someone out by encouraging others not to have anything to do with them
  • spreading lies or stories about someone
  • trying to get other students to dislike someone


  • making someone feel afraid that they or their loved ones are going to be hurt
  • making things up to get someone into trouble
  • pressuring someone to do things that they don’t want to do
  • stalking

Property abuse

  • damaging someone’s belongings
  • stealing money or property


  • harassing or abusive emails and phone messages
  • making silent or abusive phone calls
  • spreading rumours via email or phone
  • sending someone offensive texts
  • posting insulting messages on social media

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What is the most common type of bullying to watch out for?
Teasing, name-calling and spreading nasty rumours are the most common forms of bullying in schools.
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Is there any difference between teasing and bullying?
Teasing that is done in fun ­– when both the person teasing and the person being teased are involved in the joke and are happy – is not bullying. However, teasing that is done in a mean and hurtful way that involves one person upsetting another person is wrong. If a person keeps doing this again and again, it is bullying.

Sometimes a friend might laugh along with you when you tease them, but may actually be hurt or upset by your comments. You must always think about how your comments might affect the other person and how you would feel if the same thing was said to you.

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Who is involved in bullying?
Bullying situations usually involve:

  • the person/people bullying and their peers
  • the person/people being bullied
  • bystanders

However, bullying behaviour generally can create a negative school culture, and this impacts everyone in the wider school community.

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Why do some students bully others?
Students who bully may be lacking attention, power or love. By bullying, they try to get these missing parts in their lives. These students need to feel powerful and seem to enjoy harming others. They often have very little understanding of the feelings of the person they bully. Sometimes, people don’t even know that what they are doing is bullying behaviour, or they don’t understand how much hurt and anxiety they cause.

Here are some common reasons that people bully:

  • to gain a sense of power among their classmates
  • to get attention or become popular
  • to get things they want
  • to copy another person they admire
  • to make themselves feel better when they are feeling bad about themselves or jealous of someone else
  • because they feel that another person is becoming more popular than they are in their group

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How do people who bully decide who to pick on?
Students are bullied for lots of reasons. Sometimes they’re bullied because they are different, or because they’re clever or popular, and at other times simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bullying often comes from a belief that it is okay to act that way.

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How come some students bully in groups?
Students are sometimes bullied by a group or ‘gang’ of their peers. Students who bully may work in groups so they feel less guilty about the harassment. It is easier for them to take less responsibility for the bullying by blaming their friends – for example, by saying, ‘The others started it … I only joined in’. Members of a group might also join in on harassing a victim because they are worried that if they don’t, they will become victims themselves. Whatever the reason, it is not okay to bully.

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What makes bullying so harmful?
Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for students to learn to stick up for themselves. But bullying can make students feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. It is not just the students being bullied who are affected. Students in Friendly Schools research report that they don’t like seeing bullying in their school ­– it makes them feel worried and uncomfortable. What’s more, students who bully others are also more likely to have problems and be unhappy. Clearly, bullying really isn’t good for anyone.

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How do other students feel about bullying?
When surveyed in 2006, students told us:

  • 67% feel angry when they see bullying.
  • 74% feel uncomfortable watching bullying.
  • 82% like it when someone stands up for themselves when they are bullied.
  • 92% like it when someone stands up for someone who is being bullied.

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What are some wrong ideas students have about bullying?

  • Sometimes students believe it is okay to bully because they have grown up with violence or harassment in their lives and have come to believe this is a normal way of relating to others.
    Totally wrong! These students need help to learn how to get on with others so they can develop healthy and happy relationships.
  • Some students believe that it is okay to bully students who are different from them, such as students from different races and cultures, students with disabilities or students who look different.
    Totally wrong! These students need to learn that all students are different from one another and all should be treated equally, with respect and understanding.
  • Students have been hurt or upset themselves sometimes think that bullying will win them friends or improve their self-esteem.
    Totally wrong! We find that some students bully because they have been bullied themselves or made to feel bad by other students. However, bullying others will not make you feel better. In fact, students who bully generally are not happy, don’t feel good about themselves and are not liked by others.
  • Some students believe that because they belong to a powerful group (for instance, if there are more of them), they are somehow better than students in less powerful groups. This means that they might discriminate against and pick on students from smaller groups.
    Totally wrong! Being part of a group can be a really good feeling, especially if the group is a healthy and supportive one. Being part of an unhealthy group can be bad for you. Groups who think they need to use their status to have power over others and don’t respect the differences of others are not healthy.

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