Bullying

Bullying can lead to negative impacts for the person being bullied, bystanders, the person doing the bullying, and the school as a whole. It occurs when words or actions are repeatedly used to harm someone’s wellbeing. It’s done on purpose to make a person feel intimidated, threatened or powerless, and is ongoing.

Almost all young people are affected by bullying behaviour, either through experiencing it, engaging in it themselves, or witnessing someone being bullied. With the increase in social media usage, bullying has extended into students' online worlds. It can impact on a young person’s physical, social and emotional health, leading to increased substance use, academic problems, violence, and greater risk of mental health difficulties.

A whole-school approach recognises that all members of the school community play a role in preventing bullying behaviour. Encouraging respectful relationships among students, promoting family relationships, and normalising help-seeking are some practical ways this can be achieved.

Top tips for supporting your students

  • A positive school climate is one of the most effective ways to decrease bullying. Taking the time to develop safe, supportive and respectful classroom environments is key.

  • Notice and respond to changes in students’ attitudes and behaviours. Students experiencing bullying are more likely to miss school, experience mental health issues such as anxiety, display self-doubt, have physical health complaints such as stomach problems and fatigue, and be reluctant to take part in group activities.

  • Equip students with tools and support systems for managing bullying behaviour. This may include developing their self-belief, and their ability to deflect or protect themselves from bullying by using effective communication skills. It can be valuable for all students to have a support system in place. This may include a trusted adult, close friends, or outside support such as a psychologist.

  • Take all reports of bullying seriously, no matter how trivial or minor they may seem. It can be helpful to look beneath the surface of a bullying incident. Students need to know that all bullying they report will be dealt with thoroughly, to ensure confidence and trust in the reporting system.

  • Teach and promote safe and supportive bystander behaviour at your school. If a student believes it is too unsafe to intervene in a situation, they need to be encouraged to tell a teacher, their parents or a trusted adult.

Classroom activities

Student ideas to address bullying

During this lesson, students will be engaged in whole-school action planning to promote respectful relationships within their school community.

Respect – what does it mean to me?

Developing positive and respectful relationships within your school community is a fundamental part of bullying prevention education. This lesson will discuss how to establish and maintain respectful relationships as a way to prevent bullying.

How talking helps

Bystanders often worry that they may become the target of the behaviour if they stand up to it. This activity will explore some practical strategies for standing up to bullying behaviour in a safe and respectful way.

Choose your response

Through this activity, students can identify some practical ways to deal with bullying.

Ways to take care of yourself

If students are experiencing bullying, looking after themselves can help reduce their stress levels and make them feel more positive and hopeful.

Resources for students

ReachOut works with young people across Australia to develop content. You could share some of these resources with your students.

About bullying

Bullying happens when a person or a group of people repeatedly and intentionally use words or actions to cause distress and harm to another person’s wellbeing. Learn more about ReachOut’s tips if you or someone you know is being bullied.

Use control, alt, delete to cope with bullying

If you’re experiencing bullying, you probably feel powerless, humiliated and alone. Remember: it’s not your fault, and you are NOT alone. Bullying isn’t a result of anything you’ve done, but having a coping strategy up your sleeve can make it easier to deal with a bullying situation. Learn more about ReachOut’s tips for coping with bullying if it happens to you.

Cyberbullying

When you're experiencing cyberbullying, it can sometimes feel like you’re stranded somewhere no-one else can get to, facing something that no-one else understands, and with nowhere to turn to for help. But you're never alone in dealing with cyberbullying. Learn more about ReachOut’s cyberbullying strategies.

How talking helps

ReachOut talked to a bunch of young people who had experienced bullying. They all agreed on one thing: talking to someone helped them more than anything else.

Ways to take care of yourself if you're being bullied

If you’re experiencing bullying, looking after yourself can help you to reduce your stress and feel more positive and hopeful. Watch ReachOut’s video to learn from a bunch of young people who have experienced bullying and share their self-care tips.

Resources for parents and carers

ReachOut works with parents across Australia to develop content that helps them to support their young person. You could share some of these resources with your parent community.

Bullying at school: what to do if your child is struggling

Bullying at school can make some teenagers feel like they have no one to turn to. It can be especially difficult for teens to open up to their teachers about what is going on, as they may feel like they are dobbing. The good news is that parents are in a prime position to work with their child to get the issue resolved.

What to do if your teenager is being bullied

If your teenager is experiencing bullying, it’s important to stay calm and let them know it’s not their fault, that you’re there for them, and that you’ll do anything you can to help them. By talking with your child openly, you can learn more about what’s going on and help them to understand bullying and the kinds of things that will help them to cope and respond.

Tackling bullying with problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are an essential tool for tackling bullying. If a friendship goes sour, or if someone makes a nasty comment to your teen, the way they handle the problem can determine whether the situation blows up or blows over.

Helping your child build a support network

As parents, what can we do about bullying? First, it’s important to encourage your child to build a strong network of friends, supporters and appropriate services. A support network can help your child cope during tough times, such as when they are subjected to bullying. If your child is being bullied, it’s not just distressing; it can also have a serious impact on their mental health.

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