A guide to assist you with leading your school community in the safe use of technology and respectful relationships between students.
Need immediate help?
If you are seeking immediate help, you can call and speak with a Lifeline Crisis Support Officer on:
This service is available 24 hours a day,
7 days a week.
Advice and Learning
Most kids don’t bully, but many kids will be affected in some way by bullying during their school years. Even if you are not bullied yourself, you will probably see or know about someone who has been bullied or is being bullied now.
We know while your school years are mostly fun, they can be tough at times if you are having friendship or bullying problems.
- If you are being bullied or if you know of someone being bullied there are things you can do to stop this can happening and you can find advice here in the sections below.
- If you are a student leader or someone who want so help to reduce bullying in your school or community the information here can help you with information.
What is bullying?
The bullying definitionBullying is a repeated behaviour, that may be physical, verbal, and/or psychological and where there is intent to cause fear, distress, or harm to another; that is conducted by a more powerful person or group, against a less powerful person who is unable to stop this from happening. Bullying can be face-to-face or online.
So bullying is when you are being made to feel upset, angry or afraid by a person or a group of people. The person or people bullying deliberately do these things again and again and you can’t stop it from happening.
Important words in the definition:
- Repeated – this means the bullying keeps happening again and again. It can be different types of bullying behaviour that is happening to one person. If this pattern of behaviour continues and the person feels threatened, afraid, upset or hurt then it is bullying.
- Intent – Intent means the person does it on purpose. The aim of the person bullying is to cause fear, distress and/or harm to the other person. The person bullying knows that they have power over the other person they are bullying, and they repeat the behaviour and with intention of using this power to their own advantage.
- Power – Bullying is when someone uses their power over someone in a negative way. When the person being bullied is not able to stop the bullying from happening, they feel powerless. The person or people, doing the bullying then has the power in this relationship. If the person bullying keeps bullying making the other person feel upset, hurt or frightened then the person gains even more power over them.
- Unable to stop – When the person being bullied is afraid.
Types of bullying
Cruel teasing and name-calling and being made fun of and teased in a hurtful way.
Being sent mean and hurtful messages on the internet or mobile phone.
Having money or other things broken or taken away.
Being left out or not allowed to join in with a group.
Telling lies or spreading nasty rumours about someone to try and make them not like them.
Being hit, kicked, punch or pushed around.
Made afraid of getting hurt, embarrassed or upset.
Why do some kids and young people bully?
- They gain a sense of power and strength
- They are trying to be popular, gain attention and impress their peers
- They are worried about being left out of their peer group
- They are insecure, so they try to dominate others to hide their feelings
- They are unhappy and take it out on others
- They are being bullied themselves and see that it works for others
Why are some kids and young people bullied?
People bullying usually pick out someone they think they can have power over. They might pick on kids who they know will be on their own or who have trouble sticking up for themselves. Sometimes bullies pick on people because they’re clever or popular and they are jealous of this.
Sometimes bullies just pick on a kid for no reason at all or simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Whatever the reason, it is never okay for someone to bully you and it always okay for you to ask for help.
Why most kids and young people don't bully?
While bullying is often talked about and can be really hurtful and upsetting when it happens, it is important to understand that most young people don’t bully others.
Young people told us they don’t bully because:
- They have good social skills and can make friends and be happy without bullying.
- They think bullying is wrong. Most people believe they would feel ashamed of themselves, and their parents and families would be really upset with them if they bullied.
- They don’t feel they need to bully. People who feel good about themselves and enjoy school say they don’t need to bully.
- They are too busy to think about it. Young people who are involved in activities and are enjoying what they are doing are usually not interested in bullying.
- They have strong, positive friendship groups. People who have good friends are far less likely to bully or be bullied.
“Bullying is a choice. If you choose to hurt another person to make yourself feel better in some way, you really need to get some help.”
– Student Year 11
I am being bullied
We know how awful bullying can be and how hard it can be to talk about it. The first thing to know is that the right thing to do is to ask for help or support if you feel you can’t deal with the situation yourself.
What should I do if I am being bullied face to face?
When the bullying is happening and you feel you can’t do anything to stop it, follow these steps:
- Stay calm and try not to get upset or angry. This is probably what the person bullying wants you to do.
- Don’t fight back. If you fight back, you can make the situation worse, get hurt, or be blamed for starting the trouble.
- Get away from the situation as quickly as possible. Try to ignore the bullying by calmly turning and walking away.
- If the person bullying tries to stop or block you, be firm and clear – look them in the eye and tell them to stop.
- Tell a trusted adult what has happened straight away.
- Talk to a friend or another student you trust. Ask for advice or just talk to them about how you feel
Don’t think that everyone agrees with the person bullying or is going along with the bully if they don’t say something to support you. They may be afraid of getting involved or are ignoring the person bullying as a way of not joining in.What can I do to cope with ongoing cyberbullying?
- Don’t respond to the people cyberbullying. They want to see you are upset.
- Talk to your parents, carer, teacher or another trusted adult. Tell them what is happening. Do not keep it to yourself.
- Talk to your friends to get support and advice. Let them know it is hurting or frightening you and you need their support.
- Keep everything that is sent to you such as emails, texts, instant messages and comments. Give these to someone you trust – don’t keep them for yourself.
- Block the person or people from being able to contact you and keep blocking them if they try to contact you.
- Delete your current online account, such as on a social networking site, and start a new account. Only give your new details to a small list of trusted friends.
- Report any bullying to the site where it is occurring. Sites such as Facebook have a report button you can use.
- If the bullying continues and you are feeling afraid or threatened, seek help to report the bullying from the Police or eSafety.
“Give them nothing, they will think they are not having the effect they want. Just block them and delete them on all your sites and get your friends to do the same.”
– Student Year 11
What if the person bullying me is my friend or in my friendship group? This can make it difficult to deal with the bullying. It is important to remember that in a bullying situation, even if it is a group bullying you, there is usually one person driving the bullying. This person usually encourages others in the group to join them in the bullying. They can even get others to do the bullying for them.
“Talk to them. Sometimes, friends can be harsh and not even realise it, but if they don’t stop after talking to them, I personally wouldn’t call them friends “
Student year 10
If you are being bullied by a friend or someone in your friendship group:
- Speak to someone you trust and talk through some ideas for dealing with the situation and to assess your friendship with this group.
- Think about your friendship with this group and especially the person who is creating the bullying situation. Good friends don’t bully their friends.
- Are these people really my friends?
- Is there one person creating the drama and the bullying?
- Are all the people in the group involved?
- Are some of the people joining in because they are being pressured or are afraid?
- Do you really want to be friends with this person or would it be better to take a break from them and mix with other people instead?
Am I bullying?
“I have never actually set out to bully someone. It started out when another kid was making a few comments and I thought it was funny, then I started join in. At the time you do not see it as bullying, but I started to realise that it wasn’t really funny anymore and the boy was getting really upset. Now looking back, I feel ashamed of what I did but at least I admit it”
Student Year 9
Am I bullying?
- Are my actions or words hurting someone else’s feelings?
- Are my actions hurting someone else physically?
- Are my actions or words making someone else feel afraid?
- Am I trying to control someone else?
- Am I unfairly taking out my feelings of anger or frustration on someone else?
- Would I like someone else to do this to me?
- How would I feel if someone did this to me again and again?
“I look back at how I had acted and feel really bad. I was that ‘mean girl’. I caused so much drama in my group because I was so worried I wouldn’t be popular and I might get left out. Now I know I was making people ‘not like me’. I am so glad I grew out of that phase. I have awesome friends now who actually like me for me.”
Student Year 11
Tips for not getting into bullying
- Think about it. Decide if bullying is worth getting in trouble, possibly hurting yourself or others and turning people away from you for a long time.
- Put yourself in their shoes. Try to think about how you would feel if someone kept treating you this way.
- Appreciate people’s differences. Instead of picking on people for being different, use it as an opportunity to learn new things. Ask children who are different from you about their background, beliefs, favourite foods and music – they might introduce you to something new to enjoy.
- Be a real leader. Instead of being noticed for being mean, set an example by being kind and respectful of other kids. This is how to earn real respect and good friends.
- Talk to someone you trust about how you feel, what you have been doing and why you have been doing it. This can help you work out what is driving you to feel you need to bully another person and find better ways to deal with the situation.
- Join out-of-school clubs, sports or activities where you can meet new people and build you social skills.
“Bullying is a choice. If you choose to hurt another person to make yourself feel better in some way, you really need to get some help yourself”
Student Year 11
Positive peer pressure – peer support
Peers can have a positive influence on each other. Positive influence gets people involved in things they can feel proud about and makes them feel good about themselves. Peer support usually feels good because the person or group supporting you cares about how you feel and is trying to help you.
If peer pressure is generally telling you to act in a good way, to do something that seems right and doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, then it will probably be okay.
Negative peer pressure
Peer pressure can be a very powerful force when you feel you ‘have to’ do something that you might not usually choose to do. It is when you choose to do this to fit in, or ‘be cool’, amongst your peers.
If your friend or group is telling or asking you to do something you know is wrong, or to do something you feel uncomfortable about, then you need to think carefull y about your choices and decide whether this is really worth it. A good rule is if it makes you feel bad it is probably bad for you.
Students who bully usually need to have support and will often try to get their friends involved in the bullying too. Sometimes they even try to get their friends to do the bullying for them, so they don’t get into trouble themselves.
It can be really difficult if your friends try to pressure you into helping them bully someone. One of the main reasons students give in to this pressure is because they are afraid they will lose their friendships or not fit into the group.
How do I say “no” to my friends and still be friends?
- The most common response recommended by students in our program was to say:
“I still want to be friends, I just don’t want to do that”
- Another good suggestion was to go and do something else. This idea is to make them think about something else and forget about bullying.
“Let’s go and play basketball instead”
Important things to remember when saying ‘no’
- Politely refuse, don’t yell. A simple, firm “No, I’m not interested”, or “No, I don’t want to be involved”, will usually be good enough.
- Don’t over explain your response. If your peers are doing something you really don’t want to do, just say “I don’t want to” and leave it at that.
- Don’t put yourself at risk. If the situation is way out of control, try to quietly walk away to get help.
- Think about your friendships. If someone keeps pressuring you to do things that you really are uncomfortable with and doesn’t seem to care how it makes you feel, you may need to think about whether this person is really a friend.
I know bullying is happening around me
If you see someone being bullied:
- Let the person bullying know what they are doing is bullying and that it is wrong.
- Refuse to join in with their bullying and walk away.
- Ask a teacher or support person for help.
Some young people say they are worried that if they try to help someone who is being bullied, they might end up being bullied or hurt themselves.
It is important to assess the situation to identify the risks and the best course of action. Always consider your safety and the safety of others before you act by asking yourself the following questions:
- Is it safe?
- Is it fair to all involved?
- How does it make me feel?
- How does it make others feel?
- Does it solve the problem without creating more problems?
- Remember: if the situation doesn’t feel safe or you are not sure what to do, the best thing you can do is get help from a trusted adult.
If you are worried about telling or dobbing, you can tell an adult without naming the person doing the bullying and still get help for the person being bullied. Asking for help is always okay.
There are also actions you can take that do not involve confronting or speaking to the person or group bullying which can be easier for you to do:
- Encourage the person being bullied to talk to a trusted adult – this may be a teacher or a parent.
- Encourage the person being bullied to talk to you about what is happening.
- At times the person is likely to be bullied such as breaktimes at school, ask them to join you and your friendship group. People who bully are less likely to bullying someone if they are with a group.
- Ask the person being bullied to come and sit with your friendship group at lunch or breaktime so they feel supported.
Students who are alone are more likely to be the target of bullying so encourage your friends to be aware of other students who are left out or on their own in the schoolyard.
I would like to help stop bullying in my school
Together against bullying
Students are very important in creating a safe and friendly school. They can help to create a school environment that is based on respect and a feeling of belonging to the school community.
As students get older they rely more and more on their peers for advice and support. So, it is important for you to have the information and skills for you to support your friends when they need help.
How do I be a supportive student?
- Spread the word and speak up! Tell your peers that bullying is not okay.
- Be a leader. Take steps to stop bullying in your school. Talk to your teacher or principal and ask for help in setting up a “Say No To Bullying” or ‘Student Support’ campaign.