This general information is provided as a guide for young people, parents and caregivers, service professsionals and schools. If you find incorrect information please contact us to have the relevant page updated.

What is Bullying?

A bully is someone who purposely hurts or overpowers others in a physical or emotional manner.

Research shows that one in five Australian school students are affected by bullying and one in seven are bullied at least once a week. Only a small percentage of young people ever tell anyone that they are being bullied.

Bullying can cause long term consequences to both the bully and their victims. Both groups may suffer from poor psycho-social functioning, poor relationship building, low academic performance and loneliness. Those who are bullied are more likely to suffer symptoms of depression, anxiety and poor self esteem.

For information please refer to the Depression and Anxiety Section.

Bullying can include:

  • Bullying is a form of aggression that incorporates a range of behaviours. Bullying can include:
  • Physical – fighting, hitting, pushing, shoving, kicking or unwanted contact that is used to harm, hurt or intimidate.
  • Verbal – teasing, name calling, putting people down to their face or behind their back. Making racist, homophobic or gender based put downs.
  • Visual – hurtful looks, damaging people’s property or processions, rude gestures, making faces.
  • Social – deliberately leaving someone out of activities, spreading rumours, ostracising.
  • Cyber bullying – the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.
  • Sexual/sexting – sexually orientated jokes, drawing, photos or writing about someone’s body.
  • Extortion – using threat to control someone’s behaviour eg: to give up possessions, buy food or drink, to do homework for them, give them money.

There are many reasons why a young person may engage in bullying. Just as there are different types of bullying, there are different types of bullies.



  • It is important to acknowledge that bullying occurs in all schools and identifying your school’s strengths and weaknesses is a good beginning to recognising where changes may need to occur.
  • Whole school approach: staff training and support, whole class strategies, pastoral care systems, playground strategies and effective and clear responses to bullying incidents.
  • Provide students with support to discuss bullying freely and without fear and to help them feel as though they have the right and support to step in and do something about it.
  • Have a clear bullying and harassment policy that is made available to all students, parents and staff.


  • Victims of bullying can experience a range of emotions. Often young people feel ashamed and are embarrassed or reluctant to tell their parents or a trusted adult what is happening. 
  • Be watchful for changes in behaviour and possible signs of bullying such as refusing to go to school, refusing to catch public transport to school, a drop in grades, missing items of clothing/books etc, withdrawn or aggressive/angry behaviour.
  • If bullying is an issue, it is important to contact the school.
  • Encourage your child to spend time with a social network outside of school, or assist them in developing one. This will provide opportunity to encourage confidence and build a sense of acceptance.


  • Report the bullying to a trusted adult, teacher or parent.
  • Get help from a teacher, school welfare coordinator, counsellor or an adult you trust. It is important to talk to someone about the bullying.

Useful Websites & Resources

  • - ‘Bully Busting’
  • -Alannah and Madeline Foundation