Bullying is a subject that is often talked about these days, but young people can still feel too scared to report incidents and get help. Bullying can take many forms, and is always unacceptable. It can ruin lives and create disrespectful schools and communities.

Bullying is deliberate, hurtful behaviour, repeated over a period of time, where a sense of powerlessness can make it difficult for a person to defend him or herself. There are four main types of bullying: physical, verbal, indirect or cyber.

  • Physical Bullying – such as hitting, kicking, punching and other physical attacks.
  • Verbal Bullying – such as name calling, making racist remarks, verbal harassment.
  • Indirect Bullying (sometimes referred to as Emotional or Psychological Bullying) – includes spreading rumors, excluding or isolating someone, giving dirty looks and other mentally abusive tactics.
  • Cyber Bullying – bullying via technology, including receiving nasty text messages, threatening emails, and online abuse including via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Be a Proactive Bystander

A bystander is someone who sees bullying happen, but doesn’t necessarily do anything about it, a bit like a witness. Bullying usually happens when others are watching, because bullies want the attention of a crowd. By laughing, cheering or watching the crowd people are adding to the bully’s power and are being bystanders, instead of helpers. There are lots of ways to be a positive or proactive bystander, without getting hurt or risking your own safety. Go and find an adult to help, show your disapproval to the bully, don’t join in the laughter, or go and stand next to the person being bullied to show your support.

What to do if you are bullied

Sometimes young people don’t report bullying because they worry that adults will make the matter worse, or the bully will punish them for telling, but this is what a bully wants their victim to believe. The longer a person stays silent, the more the bully will continue. Once adults (such as family or teachers) know what’s happening they can work with you to find a way to keep you safe and to stop the bullying. If you are being bullied you can:

  • Talk to someone you trust and share your feelings. Keeping your worries and fears inside can make you feel even worse.
  • Ask a friend to stay with you and keep you company at break time, lunch time or after school, so you don’t feel isolated.
  • Don’t retaliate and bully the person back – you might find you’re the one that ends up getting in trouble, not the bully.
  • Keep any nasty text messages, emails or other evidence to show teachers or someone at home.
  • Report bullying online via CAABS – the Child Abuse and Anti-Bullying System. Also check out our Reporting Page for more ideas.
  • Remember it’s not your fault.